05 May, 2007

Shorts project: Story and Characters

Jase finished his first draft in 2½ hours and explains the speed because he has been thinking about it for a while. I've always believed that the hardest part of writing is the pre-writing stage. Once you've worked out the story and characters then writing the dialogue is relatively easy. And it also means that there should be less re-writing needed.

So I spent all of yesterday trying to work out my "pseudo beat sheet". It was mostly thinking but it was exhausting and gave me a headache. It was worth it though as it's coming together, sort of.

My first idea involved the woman in a canteen with a man sweeping. She could be anyone and he could be anyone. Maybe she was waiting for someone who was late and the bloke was sweeping as a hint they were about to close. Maybe he fancied her? It's a simple idea that could work but I bored myself. It was potentially too talky, too obvious and not visual enough.

Then I looked on the "man dressed in an animal costume" one and had the image of a man in a bear costume waking up in the woods. Speaking of woods, one of the other images from the TV ad was of a woman searching in the woods. What if she was burying something instead? What if they meet and they know each other? And that's why it gave me a headache, it's easy having plot points but actually having to make those plot points character driven with believable human behaviour can be difficult.

I decide to split the story so one half takes place in the present and the other half explains the events in the first half. I was feeling very smug and doing my special "solved a writing problem dance" (don't pretend you haven't got one too) when I realised that while the initial images in the first part are intriguing there is a lack of conflict. Conflict comes from someone wanting something and it's blocked in some way but it will ruin my plot if that happens. I'm just going to have to go deeper into the characters and their motivations or change the plot.

I wanted to keep it light and funny but the major conflict in the second half means it's going to be a dark comedy at best. Maybe I should try harder to think of a different conflict but to properly justify what's going on in the woods, I need to go edgier and I really want to keep that bit. And that conflict is what I want to write about as it's one of my issues or themes.

So tonight I'll think about my characters a lot more and make sure I know who they are. Tomorrow I'll do my step outline and write the first draft. Just like Potsy did. Jacko is doing his first draft tomorrow as well, so good luck to him.

Thanks to Danny for this great link where a dude who thinks most short films are crap challenges readers to present examples otherwise.

I linked to the Because of Mama short film educational website in the comments but I have converted the relevant stuff ("The Art of Storytelling" and "Drafting the Short Film") into a single pdf to download and print off. It gives a simple but brilliant introduction to the writing process.

1 comment:

potdoll said...

Good luck for today Robin!

And thanks for the pdf. Have printed it off and looking forward to reading it!