I'm closing in on an outline for episode 3 of the series I'm developing. Everything seems pretty good except the climactic scene. Of course, that's what the whole episode is leading up to and supporting. The keystone, if you will. So I better fix it. On the other hand I am pretty sure that there is a good fix to it out there, I just have to find it. At which point the whole structure will work.
Writing one of these episodes feels something like a military campaign. Sometimes I feel like I'm striking deep into the heart of enemy territory, leaving just mop-up to do afterwards. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a war of attrition, maneuvering for position, trying to create and exploit a weak spot in the enemy line.
Okay, let's get out of that metaphor, too hostile.
Some of the scariest writing in the world is episodes two and three of a series you're trying to create. The pilot is hard work because you're introducing characters and at the same time trying to tell a good story. But the hardest decisions come in the next two episodes, where you're trying to figure out exactly what your show is. In the pilot you told one sort of story. Are you telling that kind of story every week? If it's a premise pilot, well, you can't tell that story again, can you? How much does one episode rely on the previous one? How much are you going to vary the tone? Does the character who got the most exposure in the pilot still get the most exposure, or is it an ensemble show?
In episodes 2 and 3, you discover which of your characters are really core cast and which are merely recurring. The pilot won't tell you that. I just cut a character out of episode 3 that I could have sworn was core cast. I guess he's not. On the other hand, there's another character that seems to be starting a story arc, at a minimum. I'm still waiting for one of the core cast to show me a real story. He just keeps hanging on, there, with D stories.
Once I finally beat this outline into the ground (again with the hostility, Alex!) I'll be in pretty good shape. Once I have an outline I like, I feel like all I need is time and effort; I've lost the fear that I won't be able to come up with anything.
It's just about time to show this to my "Director of Development" to see what she makes of it... Hon, you got a minute?
Labels: Crafty TV Writing