Friday, December 16, 2005

[TV] Breaking the Story

Rasah, over at Procrastinatey, had the good fortune to attend a seminar about writing for TV led by Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly, The X Files, The Inside, Wonderfalls). Her full report is here.

Executive Summary of how they do it over at Team Whedon:

Take multiple pitches for story ideas.
Choose one. In the seminar, the idea chosen was for an episode of Angel:

Lonely Cordy finally meets the man of her dreams, only to realize that he's Dennis the poltergeist, who's chosen to become corporeal for one day just to be with her, but his trade-off is that he must go away forever after his day is over.

Map out the general emotional arc.

Tim used the term emotional arc in contrast to plot moves, as in, he was interested in the characters' emotional beats more than fancy plots and mysteries. He was not so much interested in the details of the plot, and when someone brought up an intricate plot idea, Tim would say, "That could be interesting, but it doesn't matter. What's the emotion underlying the moves?" Following the characters' emotions was more important than "Well, what happens next? How does Angel manage to beat the baddie?"
See where certain beats would hit at certain points.

First act break, Cordy meets the man of her dreams. Second act break, finds out he's, um, not-alive. Third act break, finds out the guy is Dennis. Fourth act, Dennis must go away.

Generate ideas for the main A story.

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