I’ve managed a bit of a breakthrough, tightening the pacing on the story (improving the first episode significantly) and getting a much livelier sense of the characters, which is immeasurably valuable. I did it by eliminating/consolidating three characters. Reminds me of a phrase used when it comes to modern media technology: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Polyphonic stories require ensemble casts: it is the nature of the tale. But too many characters and you muddy and confuse everything, and no one remembers who anyone else is. Too few, and you have no tension at all. I’ve had to be mercenary about this story, looking at every scene from a screenwriting perspective: no wasted airtime. No wasted words, no wasted sound, no pointless scenes. But the difference here is that in a three-act film, every scene pushes the story forward on the shoulders of the main character (even though … Read on!
He says it much better than I can get my thoughts to string together. Also, do take time to check out the link he includes in his post. That’s also well worth the read:
…You’re also allowed — encouraged, even! — to not like stuff. While I don’t know that “hating” something is valuable, at least in the sense that, say, That New TV Show is worth the hot irons of your internal furnace, but hey, you feel what you feel. Once again, unless you’re a paid critic, you’re allowed to dislike something without any rational or cogent reason presented. You can just be like, “Man, that show Homeland just, it just, gnaaaarghle vvvzzzzz ahhhhhh. You know?” And then you flounce about and angrily eat a churro. CRUNCH CRUNCH FROWN.
Here’s the thing.
When it comes to pop culture –
Someone is going to dislike the things you dig.
Someone is going to adore the things you don’t.
And that has to be okay….
From The way we talk about pop culture.
Pukka: Is this what it’s supposed to be like? It’s not even a game, it’s a dance. Everyone knows their place, and there are songs and people move to them and sometimes a country gets an advantage and sometimes another, but nobody pushes really hard. No one starts a real war.
Neyu: It’s why Sami left. She knew things were going to get a lot worse. She wanted to help stop it.
Pukka: …She told you about that?
Neyu: She said we shouldn’t stop trying to do the right thing even if people told us to stop, even if no one else did it. But how do you know what the right thing is? If everybody’s doing something different, how do you know which one is right?
So, the good news is the reason I haven’t written about Part 2 is because I’m busy with my script. The bad news is that right now I’ve hit a really crunchy bt and I’m backing off for a moment, so here I am. Procrastinating from writing, by writing. This is a first for me. Anyway, if you take a look at the previous entry, I had three things that happened to shake me out of whatever doldrums had locked me feet down. I’ve talked about one, I’m writing about the second here, and now that I’m re-reading that post, number three may escape me because I can’t remember precisely what it was my advisor said. Anyway. Have some squiggly mind maps. The thing with a story that relies on tensions among characters for its very existence is that it needs characters. I’d been talking about bringing Neyu’s sister Pukka … Read on!
It always feels like this: after a good stretch of feeling at sea and nothing making sense, there’s a pivotal stretch of time, maybe a few hours, during which you begin to work, and you’ve given up feeling bad about things because let’s be honest there’s a deadline looking and folks asking questions and you have nothing left to lose. And it happens. Things fall into place. Things begin to make sense, they have a sensible extrapolation, a kind of logic about them. And you feel like you’ve got your feet on the sand again, even if you’re still shoulder-deep in water. Three things happened to make this so. I went back to Bakhtin, dug around, read up on the context of his life and the political and social circumstances of his time; I took a good, solid look at polyphony again as a structure, as a theory, as a lens, … Read on!
I have not been this sick for over a decade. I know this, because when I was last this sick I had no health insurance, lived in New Jersey, and had no friggin’ car. I am very grateful I now have both those things. Not that anything can help this Moraviscian death-flu that I’ve got. It’s a flu. Or at least a very angry cold with boundary issues. And antibiotics won’t help that. The biggest problem has been that it’s messed up my head. I forgot that this happened last time, too, maybe some kind of defensive measure my psyche enacted. But for a stretch of over 72 hours, nothing made sense. I left my mug of tea by the bathroom sink. Eggs in the pantry. We don’t live in a place where that’s a viable non-salmonella storage option. I’d drop conversations half-way because I forgot I was having them. A perfectly … Read on!
GAH. So I was filling up hot water bottles, getting ready to head to bed (it’s winter here, and while a Brissie winter isn’t terribly onerous, the lack of any kind of insulation where I live means it’s as cold inside as it is outside), and I was thinking thinking thinking. Polyphony. Yeah. I harp on it. Foundational theory for me. Anyway. The original scope of Neyu’s story was quite big and long. …Ignore the double entendre. It was expansive, and had like three to five parts to it divided into smaller chapters. Which is epic, and not a problem when you’re working on something for the long run. And it’s not to say that I’ll never get to those far-flung places. But I won’t get to them for this thesis. Because all those opposing and conflicting and resonating viewpoints? It’s all in the ship. It’s like I said, what, two … Read on!
The hard thing about writing a summary is that — at least for me — I need to know more details about the thing I’m summarizing than ever end up in the synopsis. Yes, I realize that seems self-evident when I write it that way, but I’ve been trying to tackle this freaking synopsis for my thesis story and it’s harder than it really should be. And it’s because I’m just not feeling right over certain details. Or, more correctly, I wasn’t feeling right about details. Just as I posted the thing before about structure and plot, if I get all caught up in my head, if I get all tangled up and the whats and wherefores, I lose the heart. There are some structural problems with the initial conception of the story. I wanted to go polyphonic, but I had a singular main character who we follow as she … Read on!
Sometimes I need to be reminded of the following, as explained by Warren Ellis on his tumblr page. willsee90 asked: What are your thoughts on plot? Breaking rules, especially structural ones, leads to great works, but every story has some kind of structure and thus a set of rules, even if they’re wholly its own. What do you make sure to do when coming up with plots, and what are some plot elements you generally hate/see as too easy? And do you ever use those element if they fit? A: You need to stop obsessing about plot and structure. They are signposts and supports, not writing stories. There was a guy who’d yell over and over again that Stories Are Structure, but his own writing never rose above the shape and quality of a middling James Bond film. Stories are not nothing but structure. Stories have to breathe. Otherwise you’re publishing nothing but nicely-dressed … Read on!
Earlier this year, one of my friends from back in NYC invited me to contribute to an anthology for the ReDeus series, published by Crazy 8 Press. Briefly, the premise of the series is that the gods of yore have come back, and are quite ready to resume being worshipped as they once were. Native Lands features stories set in the Americas, where political games and turf wars between the native gods and those claiming people with non-American ancestry complicate an already difficult situation. I chose to play around in Yucatán, offering an educator and architect a choice that could lead to her own demise. I wrote about this in more detail in a guest post on Crazy 8’s blog, but there’s something I didn’t touch on there that I’d like to mull over and talk about here in a day or so. The reason I need the time is … Read on!