Thoughts on rewriting a plot structure.

August 14, 2011

I’ve been working for about a week now on revising the plot structure of my manuscript “The Way Back Home”, as part of my participation in Lani Diane Rich’s Storywonk Revision class.

It’s been tough, partly just from coming to terms with Lani’s critique of the structure outline that I submitted and facing the idea that the book that I’ve spent several years doing cosmetic surgery on has bigger and deeper problems that need to be worked on.

I fell in love with bits that came out of me during Nano, and those are the toughest things to let go of, to admit to myself that they don’t really serve the storyline I want, at the end of the day (year? decade??) to tell. Merlik, the bad guy who I showed you a bit of in the I hate you Blogfest, is kinduv a good example of that. Not that Merlik’s character is bad in general, he’s essentially a powerful antagonist, but I hadn’t met him yet when I started to tell the story. He was first mentioned in stories told to my main characters around halfway through the book, and then finally appeared in that little showdown with Naveli.

So there were some things that had ultimately to be folded into his plan that weren’t really Merlik’s style, and most of all, I had to come up with a way for my heroine to get out of things alive. So I had Merlik spout some mysterious nonsense suggesting that it was his plan that Naveli had escaped, that he wanted her to see the world without her family’s agenda, and that was all.

And I still like that motivation for Merlik, but I’m not sure that I can really sell it and tell a good story, because it’s not a motivation that really puts him into conflict with Naveli. So I’ve been working on revising his motives to make him a badder bad guy, and of course that changes just about everything – it’s a good change, but it means that I’ll have to let go of most of the specifics and start rewriting most of the scenes from scratch.

I’m a little scared about that, but also excited.


Blog the Cat, Chapter Seven – How to fix a broken screenplay

February 26, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Okay, we’re drawing close to the end of Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book, ‘Save the Cat’, and chapter seven is about propping up a screenplay and fixing rough spots. Actually, more of the chapter is about diagnosing problems with screenplays, but he does offer some ‘fix-it’ tips as well.

Rather than my usual tack of going through the content of the chapter first and then tackling exercises, I think that this week I’m going to mix in my participatory content and evaluate my Script Frenzy screenplays with respect to each possible problem as I go. I’ll try to cover all three complete scripts for each point, and my one incomplete script I’ll only bring up if it seems particularly relevant.

Problem 1: The Hero is passive.

Symptoms: The hero is being dragged through the story by other characters or forces, his motivation is missing, his goal is vague. He might be lazy and get handed clues to the mysteries surrounding the plot instead of going looking for them. Other characters might always be nagging him and telling him what to do next.

Ideas for how to fix: Probably start with reviewing the goal motivation first, and then going through the plot to make sure that it’s being executed well, and that whenever there’s a possibility of the hero being proactive or just waiting on events, make him show some initiative.

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