Tuesday, April 12, 2005

[The Limit] Keep ‘em off balance.

Back to the good stuff after a couple of pretty blah days grinding out Facelift sketches and doing some notes on project-management (look for an update on that soon, it has relevance to the How to Write a TV Show article).

I’m really happy with where this in-the-car confrontation scene is going now. After doing all the prep work of looking at their motivations, I think I may have found a new technique to breathe life, shove energy into this (any?) scene.

The idea is to think of each character’s input into the scene as a Bang (I’ll provide a link to a fuller definition of this later), something that must provoke a reaction from at least one of the other characters. Obviously this is simplest when there’s only 2 people around. What I’m doing is drawing a step diagram down the page, taking it very methodically and asking “If Forster does this, what is Peter’s reaction? Okay, if Peter reacts like that, what would Forster say?”

Seems obvious. Except that the reactions have to be big and personalised and surprising. My intention is to keep all the characters in a scene off-balance. Force them to respond to things they’re not expecting. Trap them in a rapidly evolving situation that’s at least partly out of their control. Kind of like life.

So at a scene level, what I’m doing is:
1. Defining stakes and conflicts.
2. Building up motivations at a beat by beat level.
3. Reaching a point where those feel artificial, where I’m bored with them.
4. Building a Step Diagram and keeping the idea of Bangs in mind.


billy said...

just readng about your creative process makes my brain hurt

hix said...

Me too! In my case, it's because I'm constantly looking for shortcuts to make the writing easy (fun) and clear (to visualise) .. which is not so easy when you're dealing with a 100 page script.

Anyway, that's me. Why does it make your brain hurt?

billy said...

well, it's quite different from mine, for starters, and i can't imagine using your approach without screaming.

it probably comes down to this: you seem to be formalising and externalising many/most aspects of the process, which to me are internal/instinctive/intuitive.

The comparison I would draw is with doing maths by either "showing the working" or just presenting the answer.

Showing the working, to me, adds unnecessary steps. It might aid clarity, especially to others not inside your head, but it wouldn't be fun for me.

*shrug*. Whatever works.