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26 December 2010 @ 07:25 pm
I don't like being an adult during the holidays.  
Hope everyone had a nice weekend!  For the first time in my life, I am working during this holiday season, and it is weird.  I went from being a kid to going to school to working for a school, so I've always had at least two weeks off around this time, so the idea of going to work two days after Christmas hasn't quite percolated through my stupid brain.  Most of my brain, the part I imagine is run by the man who sits behind a help desk and who for the last few years I have imagined looking like Kenneth from 30 Rock, is still pretty sure I will be home in my jim-jams tomorrow, watching Christmas movies and playing Christmas games and eating Christmas leftovers. 

Took my Grandpa to see True Grit today.  It was amazing and flawless.  As always happens when I watch a great film whilst in the middle of writing something of my own, it made me think about what is not working in my own project, what I'm missing, and how I can fix it.

I've realized that my protagonist is way too passive at the beginning.  She just ends up swept up in the events of the film; she doesn't instigate anything, and pretty much everything that happens afterwards, no matter how action-y she might be, is her reacting.  She has a strong Act One break goal - to save her son's life - but she needs a goal or a desire before that point, something to carry her through the first thirty pages.

Mattie in True Grit begins right off the bat with a clear-cut, strong goal: she wants to find the man who killed her father, and bring him to justice.  That goal is something she follows throughout the course of the entire movie.  Starting Mira, my protagonist, off with a specific goal could definitely work, if that's what takes her to the castle - it makes her decisive, it gives her agency.  But since I'm following the hero's journey rubric, I might want to go that route.  (Of course, all stories are essentially the same, it's just the way we analyze them and describe them, and the paradigms we use to do so, that change.  Saying I'm following the hero's journey is just a way to clarify what I'm focusing on; every story is a hero's journey, on some level or other.)  The hero usually starts off just feeling discontented and wanting more - Luke wants to get off Tattooine; Neo wants to learn more about the Matrix, but mostly just wants something more than being an office drone.  Their goal at the beginning is not necessarily specific, but there's a sense of longing, a sense that they don't belong in their worlds, that they're constrained. 

So I'm looking at my first act and seeing that I'm missing that, and I know a couple different ways I could go, and I'll have to sit down and choose.  This is different with my problem with the third act.  In fact, it's just about the opposite.  I know generally the shape of it, and I know where the character needs to go and how to close out that arc, but I cannot figure out the specifics.  Rather than having a lot of options and just needing to pick the best one, I have no options.  And this is always my problem with third acts, especially in first drafts, and I've yet to work out a good fix for it.  Sometimes I just feel like I have a hard time generating action-plot mechanics.  So I haven't given up, I'm still chugging along, but at this point it feels more like I'm letting my subconscious work on it, and I'm waiting for the moment it figures it out and I'll be in the shower, or driving, or doing something at work, and I'll have my "eureka!"
Holly: Gaius are you there gods?hollywobbles on December 27th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
I totally feel your pain on entering the adult world and not having enough vacation around the holidays. I still haven't come to terms with this -- it rankles every year.

I am totally giggling my head off at the image of your brain being run by Kenny behind a help desk though.

Does Braveheart count as a hero story? Mira is sort of a William Wallace type protagonist, where she's perfectly content until some bullshit landlord type comes in and messes with her life and she has to try to fight back. I think it works, alhough I'm not familiar with the different genre rubrics or the pros and cons of sticking to particular ones.

Hope you had a good Christmas despite working right after! I hope to get your card etc. in the mail this week. ;)
Shannon: jin ftwkungfuwaynewho on December 27th, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
I always imagine the help-desk man when I'm trying to think of something, and something dumb comes into my mind, and I'm like, "NO BRAIN," but it just keeps giving me the same info. And now I visualize Kenneth just grinning, handing me the same little card with whatever written on it over and over.

IDK, dude.

Does Braveheart count as a hero story? Mira is sort of a William Wallace type protagonist, where she's perfectly content until some bullshit landlord type comes in and messes with her life and she has to try to fight back. I think it works, alhough I'm not familiar with the different genre rubrics or the pros and cons of sticking to particular ones.

That's a good thought! I hadn't considered that particular archetype. I do think, however, that I am going to go with her having a specific goal - something maybe tied to Samuel - that makes her go up to the castle, which is NEVER done by the villagers. So it establishes that she does her own thing, she's bold and plucky (always good things for female protags, LOL), and it gives Bathory a better reason to look at her and go, say... Because right now his choice is arbitrary, and if there's one thing I like to get rid of when I revise, it's arbitrary choices, both my own and my characters.

Card etc.! I am excite. :D
cath822cath822 on December 28th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Just saw True Grit tonight. LOVED it. My dad and I have decided that gruffly muttering, "Well, that didn't pan out" is now the only acceptable way to assess improperly handled situations.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on December 28th, 2010 04:39 am (UTC)
We've already incorporated "Ay-dios" into our lexicon. "Well, that didn't pan out," was BRILLIANT. OMG, I ♥ Jeff Bridges.
nhpwnhpw on December 28th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Movie story: We tried - AGAIN - to see Tron in 3-D last night... and it was sold out. True Grit was an option, but we opted for The King's Speech instead. It was also amazing, and I highly recommend it. Meanwhile, Dan's sisters are more inspired to see Tron now that it was sold out in their first attempt. I guess it's one of those "want what you can't have but everyone else has" kind of things. It has become a minor mission for them to see it at all, and a mission for us to get to see it in 3-D before our one-and-only local 3D IMAX pulls it in favor of, like, Gulliver's Travels or something. Good to hear you enjoyed True Grit; maybe we'll put it in the queue.

Good luck with the script, and I'm glad you have a couple of options that you're mulling over. Is the plan still to finish it first, and then go back and edit, even though you've identified a major flaw?

Shannonkungfuwaynewho on December 28th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
I am definitely going to see King's Speech! I've been wanting to see it for months, ugh. I think Laura and I are going to see Black Swan/Tron as a double feature on Friday, and save TKS for next weekend, though we might splurge and go again Sunday. It depends on what's shaking at the house.

Oh, I'll finish it first. I feel much better going into revision having a completed first draft than just spinning my wheels around revising before I have a completed plan. Besides, once I "talked" through my problems, I worked on it while I worked today, and I think I figured some things out. Also, I wrote a climactic scene in my head in the shower (seriously, the shower is the BEST), and that's pretty exciting. I think, barring a few snags here and there, it's mostly going to come down to just finding the time to write. Boo adult job, boo.