Monday, April 11, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 171 - Upping the Stakes

This time last week, I'd finished the first draft of the outline for my Medieval sped. Though I was comfortable with it, my manager pointed out a number of weaknesses in it. I spent the next six days re-working on the outline, focusing most of my attention on adding to the complexity of the protagonist and upping the stakes of Acts One and Two.

Again, I'm please with the result. I know to be wary, though, because as happy as I was with the first draft, it proved itself rife with problems. This time around, though, I know there's much more to the story. In fact, it's a completely different entity in many ways, having been transformed from a fairly simple, straightforward tale of revenge to a deeper story about redemption and overcoming obstacles. That sounds pretty trite and faux-grandiose in the way writers like to talk about their material, so to better explain and not come across as having a swelled head about what, at the end of the day, is an action script, I'll explain a bit more. 

My protagonist was essentially a saint in the first draft; he always did the right thing, while those around him participated in corrupt activities. He was the unerring voice and embodiment of righteousness. While that might work for some characters, it didn't for this one. He had no growth over the course of the story. More than that, too, the love interest I gave him was also one-note, and their relationship never really built, because I did not give them any interesting screen time. 

Act Two was similarly boring. the action was straightforward, with one scene leading to the next in a fairly coincidental manner. This is an easy trap for a write to fall into, one that I have been victim to a number of times in the past. The story has to continue moving forward, but in such a way that what comes before directly affects what comes next, and builds upon what preceded it. Now, I'm pleased to say that, instead of one looming threat compelling the protagonist forward, he now faces at least three obstacles at any one point. We (and he) find out about them at various beats throughout the script, and they build in tandem to one another, creating a more-realized world and stakes that continue to escalate.

We have a writers group meeting tomorrow, and I'm eager to see how the other Leaguers respond to the outline. For many of them, this will be their first time looking at the project. Fresh eyes on the outline are just what I need to gauge whether or not I'm on the right track. Hopefully, with a vote of confidence from them, I'll be able to move over into the pages stage of this script and tackle any remaining issues there.