Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Timelines, time frames--and condensation

I was working on an outline today--trying to make sense of this enormously convoluted plot with stuff going off in different directions. I like complicated plots--but sometimes it's like I'm on a Tilt-a-whirl, spinning until I'm holding on by my fingertips, and centrifugal force is trying to fling me splat against the wall.

I couldn't get past the beginning--no, that's not true. I got past the beginning, but I couldn't write the beginning, if that makes any sense. I kept writing into the middle because I knew where Connor and Jacey were going but I had no idea how to get them there. When stuff like that happens, I start thinking maybe the story starts a little later. People always say--start in the middle.

Other people told me I started too far after the middle and needed to back up. I've been wondering who the hell is right. I can't very well dump into this multi-stranded thriller with people going, "huh?"

I know what's going on, but we're not at virtual reality PlayStation like on those old commercials.

I started with a prologue, I started with Connor landing at the airport, I started with Jacey meeting him, I started in his hotel room--I blinded him, blinded her, made him wear geeky clothing (only a novel, lol...) and gave him bad b.o. Just to see where it went. But it only "went" when they interacted--after they'd met, when their relationship was settling into this kind of guarded truce.

And then--I sat in traffic.

--Don't get me wrong, I love my car (YAY!!!! I have "my" car back. A solid month after handing it to the movers)--

And had a brain fart.

Sort of like a gaseous explosion along the lines of "why the HELL didn't I think of that before?"

If B needs to happen, so C can happen. Why hadn't I put in A?

I need to get Tris and Connor together to set Dead Gorgeous in motion, but the story doesn't start in DG. It starts in Hot Contract, in the epilogue. So now I know--okay, it's started already. So they meet, he starts investigating, everyone tries to kill him. But before that happens, I need a transition.

Something to bridge the gap from Hawaii to Singapore. In a movie it would start with the airport, a long pan over the gate area or the ground spiraling up. In some ways Cinematic Storytelling is right, because you need to set your shot for maximum impact.

I want to frame Connor's uncertainty. Yeah, he was Delta, but he's had some bad experiences--and now he's having problems. I guess if I wanted to go with a stock treatment (and lol--I'm reading way too many screen-writing books) I'd paint him heroic, give him the Ar-nuld treatment and paint him shallow, but he's a guy. He grew--not the way he wanted--and changed into someone he doesn't recognize anymore.

Which brings me back to Jacey and my deleted scene (I keep them all at the end of the file just in case). I moved it back, had her at the airport, gave them both 20/20, and had people try to kill them from the get go.

It condensed three chapters and got rid of baggage by letting me go from plane>to airport>to Jacey>to action. Just like a movie.


Jennifer McKenzie said...

YAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! That's what I'm talking about.
You go girl.
*happy sigh* I can't wait to read it AND I really hope Tris gets a love interest. Poor guy. Poor cold ass murdering guy. LOL.

Alice Audrey said...

I suspect it was the people trying to kill him that really got the ball rolling. Nothing like a good shoot out to liven things up.

Unhinged said...

It's interesting reading about your enlightening brain fart. My brain farts go the other way, usually meaning: Can't. Think. No. Mo. Duh-doy.

Kind of like what I'm feeling now. I have nothing intelligent to say, other than I hope all of this is sinking into my unsubconscious.

A. B. C.


B. C. A. = not right.

Have you considered C. B. A.?

Kaige said...

I really liked how McKee puts it about the Story Events -- about how they have to show a meaningful shift in a value and it has to come from the decisions the character makes (both in history/backstory) and in the previous scenes.

I agree it's all about the choices we make too. What to include, what to leave out. Where to start.

And "Yay!" for car time! Nothing like a little forced one-on-one time with your brain. Glad you got your own wheels back.

Thank you for these posts, Jodi. They're really helpful to me, because I realize I'm not alone, even more experienced writers have similar issues and they often help me connect things in my brain from a practical example.

jodi said...

lol, Kaige--I have nothing but practical stuff because I'm still learning. One day, maybe I'll stop--but right now, I've got more cow books.

Alice--there is NOTHING like a firefight to get everyone running. :)

Unhingey, you know gas can only escape, lol. And I'm full of hot air.

Jen, Tris has a wonderful love interest--you met her already. Amy, from Hot Contract, she blows by at the luau scene with her brothers and dad. She runs a youth rescue organization, she's a goody two-shoes, and she's really really nice, with a really really nice family. All the things Tris never had. I like Tris. He's been my avatar for a very long time.

Alice Audrey said...

"Alice--there is NOTHING like a firefight to get everyone running. :)"

I know. I should do it more often.

Kaige said...

I think I'd be very sad if someone told me I couldn't learn any more or anything new one day. cow books... hehe... why does that make me think of cow-orkers? Anyway, better get to bed if I want to take advantage of the morning silence tomorrow.