Thursday, August 12, 2010

Workplace Bully: It begins

Workplace Bully was the New Thing that gathered the most comments back when I was blogging about my next projects. I've spent the last couple of months researching and thinking about what could happen when you're bullied.

Rather than take extensive notes, I turned each idea or interesting-fact-from-the-research into an episode idea (describing each idea in a sentence). That gave me about 200 ideas ... and out of that research, some insights into the characters and what I want to do with the show have emerged.

I've found that I've been a little torn between my original conception of creating Workplace Bully as a webseries and discovering the story along the way vs. outlining the whole thing for an upcoming Film Commission thing. That tension has brought back some of my old fears about writing, but I seem to be dealing with it this time by breaking each stage of outlining in small, quickly-and-easily achieveable steps.

My big goal was to create an outline of the story that I could show to my first audience of readers (Sean, Andrew, Chris).

First step was to take those 200 scenes and identify the main emotional beats - the moments and decisions that make me care about the characters and the story I'm watching. With that done, I culled even further ... and identified what I called the 'keystone' beats: the absolutely essential moments in the script. There are seven of them.

The order for those 'keystone' beats was pretty clear, but on their own they don't make a story. Now I had to take the main emotional beats and use them to create a flow of events between each of those keystone beats. This took a bit of doing; after refining my first crack at it, I took a day to just reflect on the story and what I considered to be the core of it.

Finding the core of a script or a story, figuring out what it's about, is something that I constantly refine through doing a project. Here's what I think is the core for Workplace Bully, at the moment: it's the story of an ordinary woman who has to become a hero. That captures the sense of the everyday setting of the story coupled with the epic nature of the struggle that I want.

Now I've refined the story a little more based on that. With previous projects I might have kept going on this for days. Now I'm going to pitch it to Sean as soon as I can. Get his feedback, restructure it and get a very rough written outline to Andrew and Chris (if they're willing) as soon as I can.
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