Eleven pages of rough draft today. That's a good day's work any day. (Unless my staff and I have for some reason just been parachuted into a ongoing production and we need to rebreak the next episode and then write it from scratch for a production meeting tomorrow. Speaking hypothetically, of course.) In development, I like to get five good pages in a day, once I'm writing pages; a good day could bring anywhere up to fifteen, at which point I usually pack it in so I don't start writing gibberish.
Except the first day. Many days, the first page often seems to take me the entire first day. Go figure.
It's taken me a much longer time to get up to speed on this script. Various people liked the outline, and I didn't feel like there were holes in it. But writing the early scenes proved to be much harder than I thought. I had to rethink practically every scene in the first ten pages -- usually the mark of an outline where you've indulged in too much handwaving.
I don't think it's handwaving. I usually know when I'm handwaving. I think it's because the contemporary urban metaphysical I'm writing isn't really plot driven, although it pretends to be. It's really character driven, following the Rule of Joss I've mentioned elsewhere. So it is harder to gauge when I'm taking too long to get into the A story. On a broadcast hour, you really want your A story up and running in the first five pages if not in the teaser itself, and you ought to have your first plot twist at the first act break. Not on this show. On this show, the A story is merely the catalyst for the drama. So if the drama needs eight long pages before we meet the episodic character -- the Person With A Supernatural Issue -- it's going to get them.
(DON'T try this on broadcast. Who knows, it might not even work on cable. But I think it will.)
Still, since the pacing doesn't have to be the same as every other hour show, that means I have to figure out by my gut what the pacing has to be. Free verse, after all, is actually harder than poetic form, because it has to rediscover its own form with each stanza, and not just come off as wordburger. This is free verse TV.
However, as a general rule, if you're not writing to act breaks: keep the story interesting
, and all will be forgiven, so long as you build to a climax and wrap it up in the end.
Now back to my pages...
Labels: Crafty TV Writing, five act structure
Alex, is there going to be a way to legally watch your show in the US? It seems intriguing, but I can hardly go to a canadian hotel every time it's on. Or did I completely miss the memo on where it's going to be broadcast?
That's very kind of you, Michael. We're still in development. Once we get further into financing, I imagine we'll be looking for a US sale. I'll let you know how that turns out.
Why don't you post any of your old script, like John August? I'd be curious to read some.
Can I ask - how long did the outline take?
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