Monday, May 22, 2006

Thanks for showing up

It was good to see the old Pistons back in action last night. I’ve been a bit nervous that they’d started to fall apart as LeBron single-handedly disarmed them over the last three games. However, yesterday the boys went back to work and got it done, old school style. Next up for the Pistons are Shaq and The Heat. For some reason I don’t see them causing the boys as much of a conundrum as LeBron. That boy is downright scary on the floor with the way he looks at the game. It’s not in the “I’m the star player who can juke you” way Kobe does it. It’s the “I’m going to dissect this defense like a velociraptor” look Jordan used to give.

Started working on draft 3 of “Syndrome” and have officially dropped the “Syndrome” working title. Going forward I’ll use the working title “Through the Rain,” which fits the story much better. With the revisions, I’m a little less than half way though the draft and already it’s a much tighter script. It’s not great by any means, but as Ryley told me, it’s the first 100 miles on a 1000 mile journey.

It’s odd, how much taking a few weeks off from writing can spark your creative juices. I remember when I was working during almost all my free time on “Through the Rain,” taking it in any direction I wanted, and it just wasn’t going for me. I wasn’t satisfied, and I think I know why. I had this, what I consider, great concept in my head but didn’t take the time to develop the story before I started to write.

When I wrote “Bystander,” it was an idea I had in my head for years. I’d spent the time working out the story, the main acts, the direction it was going to take, the characters, the main events. I may not have written anything formal down, but it was all there. “Through the Rain” was different, sparked from an idea that came to me while farting around playing video games. I didn’t have the years of time to mull the story over, decide on the characters, figure out the key events. I just sat down and started writing.

It was fun, but eventually became tedious. I was 80 pages in, having developed this whole story, but yet didn’t feel like I had went anywhere with it. Instead a psychological thriller which really makes you queasy to read, I was somehow in the middle of a secret government conspiracy and a plot by the Joint Chief to take over the government with a military coup. This wasn’t going to do, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I took a step back. Then I took a step forward. Then a step back. Then a step forward, and before I knew it I was doing the cha-cha. Seriously, I stopped writing and took some time to just let it sit and linger.

I’d think about the story while I was at the gym, in the car coming home from work, on the toilet, anywhere I could. I wouldn’t obsess over it, I’d just let it sit there, on the back burner. I developed the character Shaun, quick witted but stuck in a dead end programming job. I thought up the character Michelle, Shaun’s love interest, who is easy going and a little loopy. I thought up Dr. Upton, a smart, but skeptical Dr. who eventually helps get Shaun back to where he belongs. I thought about the psychiatrist, trying to help Shaun with his perceived problems. Then, I worked on Max, possibly the most difficult character in the story, who had to have an impact without actually ever doing anything himself. Once the pieces were in place, the story sort of presented itself.

The three acts (1, 2a, 2b, and 3) were in place before I knew it. I had my story arc, I had my defining moments, I had my climax and conclusion, and I had some twists to toss in at the end. It was all there. So, I sat down, deleted about fifty pages, rewrote a few earlier scenes, and got down to business. Here I am two weeks later with a finished 134 page second draft. I’ve already got this down to 125 in my third draft.

I’ll admit, this is not as good as Bystander, and deals with significantly more difficult stuff to write about, which compounded with my lack of experience, made getting some of these things down on paper very hard to do. However, as an exercise in writing very intense violence and dialogue, I think it was a success. I’ll finish up draft 3 and then let it sit again for a while, until I’m able to come back to it with the know how I need to really make the last act work the way I want it to.

Next up on my plate is finishing up “The Track at Dusk,” the racing script I started last year. I’ve got 80 some odd pages for that down, and it deals with subject matter I’m infinitely more familiar and comfortable with. I stopped writing last year because I went to work back on “Bystander” and needed to grow a bit, talent wise and intellectually, before coming down to tackle the two big themes or the story, trying to keep up with time as you age, and a how a relationship between a man and a woman continues when both are pulled in different directions. I really think the story behind “The Track at Dusk” is solid, and not a simple rehash of some of the other racing films out there (Le Mans, Days of Thunder). Now that I’ve got a bit more experience, I’ll be able to get some of the montage scenes out of the way that will move the story through the 24 regular season races, and the 10 races series for The Cup. That was my main problem, being able to move through several races in quick succession, without having to spend more then ten seconds showing how Frank, the main character, finished.



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