Thursday, May 10, 2012

B story is the answer

The story always follows the same plot. I write a first draft of a treatment, the beginning is great and the enging is great, often set in stone. I rarely make major changes to either of those from the day I first type them up. But the middle, well, you know. The dreaded Act 2. How do I get from this awesome beginning to the awesome end? It's not easy.

So the first draft of my treatment is always really thin. I throw some placeholder events in, finish it up, then sit back and look at it, dissatisfied but happy to at least be on my way.

After thinking for a couple of days and maybe having someone read it over, I always come to the same conclusion: Needs more B story. I get so caught up on my protagonist's journey that I can't see any other stories in the mix, and then I start thinking about what everybody else is doing while she's not on screen. Sometimes they do interesting things. Usually they're trying to get her. And there it is. While my character is trying to stop the bad guy, she has cops/robbers/aliens/zombies/jealous rivals making her life complicated by trying to stop her from saving the world.

This is almost always the answer - see how many times in this post I used that word, "always" - but I still go through this process each time. When the first draft comes out lacking I'll say to myself, "It needs a B story." But then I stare and stare and can't come up with anything, even though I know full well what the problem is. And then one night while I'm trying to sleep, or while I'm singing in the car, or while I'm louffaing in the shower, I realize what my B story is. And then I'm off to the races.

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