LJ Throwback – Currently listening to: “An End Has a Start” by Editors
Okay, so… about two weeks ago I realized not only was there no way I was going to make the deadline I set for myself, I was going to go completely broke trying. I mean, that’s just the worst of both worlds. And if I did that, I’d almost for sure have to go back and make major edits to scene two to make sure Act 3 and 4 made sense. And that would be confusing for early readers. I should at least get my set-up right.
So I had to go back and make money again… but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten a lot done anyways. I’m dedicating this post to the changes made to the script, and the next, I’ll focus on the art production.
Potential spoiler warning, because I have a hard time remembering what parts are actually spoilers. The things that I feel are the most important parts of the script, might feel like decoration to a plot/fact-oriented reader.
The way I see it, the bones of the plot really aren’t the best part. It’s just what gives the thing legs. It’s the fleshy parts that make it hug-able.
I moved all the informational force conferences back before the midpoint.
Okay, you don’t know what that means. So in the Last Jedi there are these scenes between the protagonist and the antagonist where they’re prevented from engaging in any physical conflict, and so, a have some real conversations. Someone (I don’t remember who now) referred to them as “force conferences”, and the name stuck for me as a general term for any time opposing players are forced (ha ha) into negotiation.
The force conferences in The Last Jedi fascinate me, because while they function emotionally and symbolically, if you actually listen to what they’re saying it’s almost complete nonsense. But they still kinda work… provided you’re engaging either emotionally or symbolically. But… not everybody did with that movie. So it’s interesting.
Part of the problem in that movie, I think, is that they had to cover an enormous amount of ground with those characters: Rey and Kylo knew practically nothing about each other before these scenes. Unfortunately, the plot in the movie was so bloated, they couldn’t give this the space it actually required (real negotiation takes a long time). So they took short-cuts with clever staging, musical cues, and very precise and broadly approachable symbolism.
THE POINT IS. I made sure that Jesse and Kaya got enough information shared between them by the midpoint, that they both have rough ideas of who the other is. It sets them up to form an actual relationship, and not just a symbol of one. They’re free to exchange more interesting ideas that require basic knowledge of the others’ outlook. Moving most of that stuff earlier also means that the back half of the script can be motivated by decisions based on all the information at hand, and the results of those decisions. A lot of stories rely on sudden reveals to propel things forward. I’m trying to make sure this is a story about repercussions, and not one about secrets.
Breen (who you haven’t met at all yet, except in promo shots) used to have a scene where he basically dumps his whole backstory. While his backstory does inform the character, there was no build to the scene, and it didn’t feel like a payoff to anything else in the script. He also doesn’t seem like the sort to dominate a conversation like that. The information about him is now distributed across many scenes, and only given when he’s feeling nostalgic, or trying to make a point.
Jesse’s backstory, the behemoth that it is, also came out all at once in past drafts. While telling it all, with full illustrations will be interesting eventually, it’s just too big. Dropping it all at once would destroy any momentum I had. Again, it’s better distributed.
Jesse’s conspiracy is coming along.
The best part is that it’s almost to the point where he can explain it in a few sentences, even without explaining how this particular government works.
The web shown here is actually how the story world is really connected. Jesse will have a similar, but less detailed and slightly incorrect version of his own. If you care about world-building, the web shown here is either a near-illegible gold-mine, or it’s a spoiler-filled minefield. I redacted the names that are actually important to the main plot.
Almost none of this will directly apply to the story. I built this so that when Jesse goes off about conspiracy in the government, he’ll stay self-consistent. And should I ever have to increase the scope of the story, I won’t have (so many) internal logic errors.
I am concerned that the prisoners seem to have too much freedom. Small moments showing failed attempts at autonomy will need to be found.
To conclude: I currently have a draft of the script that has a pretty solid draft of Act 3, and goes all the way through Act 4 with the primary conflict. The secondary conflict will be communicated almost entirely with blocking throughout, so I may not actually be able to flesh out Act 4, and find the satisfying ending until I’ve actually sketched out all the pages.