So I've been wrestling with a new draft of something (not the secret spec, it's a TV script for a new in-development show), and there came a point where I thought it was going to defeat me. It had a major change of location, which meant lots of scenes and plot stuff didn't quite make sense anymore, but still needed to be there, in some form. So I had to rewrite, figuring out what I could keep, what had to change, what had to vanish, and what had to be added. When I got to page 16, it suddenly started getting out of control. Scenes had to be relocated, both in the story, and on the page. Some scenes had to be split in two and put in separate places. Some needed to be combined, but moved to a different day. I was losing track of where I was, my mind was stuck in the old version, and it was falling apart. So I immediately put it off for several days and faffed around on the web. As you do.
Getting back into it, there was no magic solution - I just had to keep going, slogging through it, making shitloads of notes to keep track of everything. Sometimes, it comes down to an endurance run, and you have to suck it up and keep going. As you know from the previous post, I keep my TextEdit notes open next to the screenwriting software. On this occasion, I had the notes open, with a skeletal new outline to keep track of the new plot line, and a separate file open with all the characters, who they are, where they are, and what they do. Here's a screenshot, to demonstrate my full use of screen space:
From left to right: script, outline notes, character notes. Text is blurred to keep my dirty secrets. Some characters had to change, due to the new location. Some were dropped. Some became completely different people. But the overall plot had to stay the same. Probably would have been easier to just start writing from scratch, but everyone liked the old draft, and I didn't want to lose all the good work I'd one. So I fought through it. And finally, today, on page 37, I'm past the worst of it. I have beaten it, and know where I am, what's going on, and the finish line is in sight. Beat you, you fucker. Days like this, after wrestling with something, you feel like you can do anything.
Yesterday, while trying to figure out what I was up to, I was chatting to Jo on iChat. She suggested a new location for the story, to help out: "what about if it was a space school, with ghosts and vampires? and a friendly monkey called 'vagina'?" We agreed that he'd be a gentleman monkey - a gentlemonkey - who wears a monocle and a top hat. He solves crimes, and helps people out when they are upset. Obviously, things swiftly descended into the gutter:
Jo: and sometimes, he can't help wanking a little bit when he gets too excited about solving things
Me: don't we all?
Jo: of course. in a way, we're all vagina the gentlemonkey
And just in case you have rationalised any of this: we were on iChat in the same house together. In the same room. We were tired, and silly.
I'm delighted to see that the long awaited, unfinished novel by Jack Torrance has finally been published. See for yourself what all the fuss is about, and wonder what might have been if he'd had a chance to complete it.
While I'm doing funny links, check out this sneak peek at the new version of Windows.
Next post: Gallifrey report! From Feb 2008. Yes, I know. Shut up.