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11 November 2010 @ 10:11 pm
NaScreeWriMo - Day Eleven  
Not too many pages today, but I outlined Sequence Four (of which these pages are the beginning), which for me is the hardest sequence.  It's carrying the story to the midpoint, that place where everything tips to a new direction, the hinge; it can kind of be a balancing act to bring the tension up but not overshoot, because you still have plenty to go.  Sequence Four can also be tough from a character standpoint - the act break brought her into a new world and she's slowly becoming acquainted with it.  So on the one hand, S4 sees her more comfortable, figuring things out.  On the other hand, though, she's learning that she's in over her head, that the goal she thought she was achieving with her decision at the act break is actually a false goal (and this will be hammered home at the midpoint).  It's kind of a dichotomy.  My favorite go-to structure model is The Matrix - on the one hand in S4 Neo is learning how to fight, how to operate in the matrix, how to think in a different way, and it's kind of cool.  On the other hand he's realizing that everyone on the ship is depending on him to literally save the entire world - and at the midpoint, he learns that he won't be able to, when the Oracle tells him that he is not the One.  So a lot of the tension in these 10-15 pages is internal, the protagonist warring with herself - she wants to make things work, because this is her new life, but it's getting more and more difficult until it reaches the point where she simply cannot do it.  And then we hit the midpoint and the story heads in a different direction.

Suffice it to say, it's tough.  I think I've got it figured out, but I realized a few days ago that Ilka was in some ways as much a protagonist as Mira, so I'm like having to do two separate character arcs, and interweave them, and I think I kind of fucked up in that the reversal of fortune - that great big X - should have its junction right at the midpoint, and I think they've already switched places.  I'm not sure about the pacing of it. 

Ah well - that's what the process is all about!

INT. KITCHENS - NIGHT

Dominik stands inside a small dark space - like a cave. A tiny candle at his feet barely provides any light. He looks at the craggy surface all around him, a flat metal spatula in his hand.

ANA (O.S.)
Make sure to scrape good and hard.
 
Dominik takes the spatula and goes to work.

OUTSIDE, IN THE KITCHENS

Ana and Ilka stand next to one of the big cooking CAULDRONS, turned upside down. It sits on two boards - just enough to let some air in.

ANA (CONT’D)
I hate cleaning the big ones - it’s such
a strain on the back. We haven’t had
anyone small enough since...
 
Beat. Ana wants to take it back. Ilka looks pained.

ANA (CONT’D)
I’m sorry, my Lady. Ilka.

ILKA
Erzsebet no longer works in the kitchens?

ANA
No. There was...an incident.
 
INT. MIRA’S ROOM - NIGHT

Mira shrinks back until she hits the vanity. The girl on the bed - ERZSEBET (10) - bares her teeth and HISSES. She is chalk white, skin and bones. Lank hair. Rags.

Mira’s hand gropes blindly over the surface of the vanity. Finds a BRUSH. She holds it up like a weapon.

MIRA
Who are you?
 
Erzsebet only growls. Crawls down to the foot of the bed. Like an animal.

MIRA (CONT’D)
You shouldn’t be here. You need to leave.
 
Erzsebet slips off the bed, takes a few steps toward Mira. Mira sidles over to the door. Tries to open it. It’s locked.

Erzsebet GRINS. She circles Mira like a lion playing with a mouse. Mira drops the brush, jerks the door handle back and forth.

Erzsebet LUNGES at Mira. Knocks her down. She straddles Mira, her TEETH snapping together over and over just inches from Mira’s throat.

Mira uses one hand to keep Erzsebet from biting her. The other hand searches for the hairbrush. She finds it. HITS Erzsebet over the head - once, twice.

Erzsebet howls, skitters away. Cowers at the foot of the bed, a hand pressed against where Mira hit her. She cries, baleful eyes turned Mira’s way.

MIRA (CONT’D)
I...I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt
you. But you were going to bite me.
 
Erzsebet slowly crawls over to Mira, belly on the floor. Both of them wary. Mira keeps the brush in her hand.

Erzsebet curls up against Mira, lays her head on her breast. Now she just looks like a scared little girl. Mira slowly brings a hand up to stroke her hair.

CLICK. The door creaks open a few inches.

CUT TO:
 
INT. DINING HALL - NIGHT

Erzsebet eats - ravenously. She uses her hands, stuffs food into her mouth. Not much time spent on chewing.

Mira and Janos stand against the opposite wall and watch.

JANOS
When Erzsebet was born there was much
rejoicing. The Count and Lady Ilka had been married
less than a year. It was believed they would have
many children. But little Beta was sick, very sick.
It might have been better if she had not survived.

MIRA
How can you say such a thing?

JANOS
She is wild, barely human. Normally she is kept in the
west tower - I don’t know how she got out.

MIRA
Ilka abandoned her own daughter?

JANOS
No, quite the opposite. Ilka loved her, did everything
she could to care for the child. But Beta hated her. She
always did, even as a baby. She would not nurse, would
not let Ilka hold her.
 
Erzsebet finishes her food, looks up at Mira. Smiles - warm, sweet.

JANOS (CONT’D)
When Erzsebet was four she climbed up into
Ilka’s bed while she was sleeping, bit her throat, and drank her blood.
 
 
 
nhpw: delenn&lenniernhpw on November 12th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
One of the benefits of NaNoWriMo is that they send you routine "pep-talks." Given my post yesterday, this morning's pep-talk hit it right on the head. I'm going to forward it to you because it sounds like you're in a similar place. If nothing else, it will probably make you laugh.

Erzsebet would be the character we hadn't met yet, the one you were telling me about, yes? She's... colorful. I want to know more about her (in a "I'll keep reading because I'm intrigued" way - not in a "you didn't give enough detail" way.)
Shannon: b5 delenn profilekungfuwaynewho on November 12th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
Hee! That was so cute - I like the "we're all going to die and everything we've done will end up crumbling away so what's the point, go ahead and quit." That is some prime reverse psychology there.

I think this is the toughest sequence for me because it's almost entirely character-based, and I tend to outline from a plot stand-point and work out my character arcs as I draft, and I don't have that fall-back for these 15 pages. Which is actually good for me, since it's something I need to work on.

Yes, Erzsebet's the last major character. I've been very excited to get to her. I'll be able to tell more when I've finished the draft and can look at the whole thing, but I've worried about introducing her this late. So we'll see.
nhpwnhpw on November 12th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I've worried about introducing her this late. So we'll see.

Sometimes I think this works. This is a totally lame comparison, but I can't say it better, so I'm going to do it anyway: JMS intended B5 to be a novel for television. Sheridan turned out to be his main protagonist, but by novel standards he wasn't introduced until "rising action" - heck, through the entire first 1/5 of his "novel" there was not even an indication that somebody else was going to show up. And it worked out just fine.

By this logic I think you will be just fine with Erzsebet as well. FWIW.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 12th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
You know, sometimes all you need is someone saying, "It's cool, I think." :D
Holly: A/R I built a homehollywobbles on November 13th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
Seriously, Erzsebet's creepy as shit. (I'm catching up today, obvy.)
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 13th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
I knoooooow.