Monday, October 03, 2011

Commence Burnside reboot

A few years ago I tried to write a Civil War era action drama called Burnside. It was a really cool idea and I was super excited about it, and then I wrote it and rewrote it, but got the same results from everyone except my mom - it just doesn't work.

I was trying too hard to do lots of unconventional things, and I was so stuck in the scenes I'd planned out in my head that I couldn't see any other way to tell the story. I put the script away and continued to work on other projects, knowing that one day I'd return to Burnside to fix what was wrong.

Today is that day. I don't think I was ready for this script a few years ago. I'm ready now. The answers have been coming quickly every time I ponder the characters and their actions. I had a eureka moment in the shower last night where I literally yelled out "HE KILLS HER BROTHER! OH MY GOD OF COURSE!" And then clapped as I realized I had solved one of my toughest story problems.

Last night I cranked out my treatment in no time flat. I know these characters and this world - I just needed to rearrange their order of operation. I had been stuck on my original plan and unwilling to re-envision it the way it needed to be seen.

The first step was realizing that my protagonist needed to be my antagonist, and my love interest needed to be my protagonist. That one switcheroo changed everything for the better. The challenge is changing the way I think of these people. The person I used to side with is now the enemy, which is a little difficult to wrap my brain since I've now known this character for years. The upside of that is that my antagonist now has a really clear goal and backstory.

I want to use the same opening scene and a couple of moments in the middle, and at first I opened the old file to copy and paste that first scene into the new folder, but then I stopped.

I want to start over. I'm scrapping every word. I am older, wiser, a better writer now than I was a few years ago. This version doesn't need to be handicapped by an old me. This script HAS to be good; it's my constant labor of love.

So while I wait for notes on my last project, I'm going to start pumping out pages of Burnside: The Reboot. I have a feeling this won't take nearly as long as other projects because of how well I know this one. I've changed everything. I kept most of the characters, the setting, and the basic premise, but the plot is completely changing.

Because sometimes you have to scrap it and start over. And sometimes it takes a while to get there.


  1. One trick I use when I'm completely rewriting a character is changing the name. Keeps me from slipping back into writing them however they were in the previous draft.

  2. I am so happy for you. Isn't that great, that moment in the shower? More fucking precious than gold; at least you know where to get gold.

  3. Very nice, Emily! Now finish this baby.

  4. I like Burnside's mutton chop hairstyle.

  5. That is where the term "Sideburns" came from. True story.

    And thanks everybody.


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