Monday, August 16, 2010

Workplace Bully: Public debut

Just pitched Workplace Bully to Sean. This is a big improvement for me: with The Limit the gap between thinking about the story and pitching it was about two years. With this it's been ... ah, ... less. Like maybe six months since first thinking about it, and about a week since first starting to work on it.

Pitching, as ever, remains difficult for me. This was my first time describing the whole story to someone else. I prefaced it by explaining that, and asking Sean to keep a lookout (while I pitched) for the emotional flow of the story. Were there any odd or inexplicable character decisions? Any big leaps where things didn't make sense.

The pitch was a bit of a conversation, a bit of recitation (from my outline), and a bit of discovery (I figured out a few scenes while explaining the story). Sean and I also know each other pretty well - he felt comfortable asking questions about things that were unclear to him. I felt comfortable pausing to write things down. To an outside observer, it would have seemed very stop-n-start, but for us it was like hitting pause on a movie, and then getting right back into the story.

Two big discoveries from pitching it

First, this marked the beginning of the story's transition from a bunch of related scenes to something coherent, with themes and a structure. The conversation with Sean really drew out a few big points, including how epic the confrontation between the two main characters in this story really is.

Second, we examined the emotional logic behind one of the characters deciding to fight back. It felt facile to me as I pitched it, and it felt an odd transition to Sean as he listened. Together we were able to really dig in to what was going on for the character at that point. This is some of my favourite writing work - to figure out all the implications of the plot event on a character and then determine how they'd really react to it ... and what that means.

Now it's time to absorb the rest of his feedback and get to work on refining my outline so that it's readable. There's much work to be done, but I'm on the right track.

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