Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Moving forward

Yesterday househunting got in the way of writing. Disappointing house hunting, at that. Apparently "Well maintained" means a crumbling awning and holes in windows that have been repaired by boarding them over with plywood. And "Great neighborhood" means the homeless guy sleeps at least 100 yards from the house and the gunshots can only be heard on Saturdays.

Anyway, it was good that I didn't have time to write yesterday because I needed some time to think. Every step of this script has been a challenge. I've had to think seriously over every step, but I refuse to abandon it because I believe in the story and I think it could really add to my resume. Not Dead Yet is an expensive action story and zombies are everywhere right now that my work doesn't stand out enough, but Burn Side is a much lower budget story and if anyone else comes up with something similar I'll eat my hat. It's also exactly the kind of film I love to watch.

But it's been harder to write. Much harder. I'm dealing with racial issues and gender issues and historical facts, and all of these things are making me worry that when this thing is done people will point and laugh at me.

Then again, that's always my problem. With zombies you can kind of make up rules, but with real history involved you risk mockery if you get things wrong. Fortunately my mom will look it over when I'm done and she's an expert on this particular era of history, but she doesn't know much about screenplays and she doesn't watch action movies so I'm a little nervous that a lot of her notes will be stuff like "A lady in waiting would never kick the king in the face." That's not really the historical accuracy I'm worried about.

The other problem I've had is the ending. Usually I know exactly how the story ends before I even type the first line of the script, but this time I've been a little unsure. I'm using the whole Crouching Tiger / House of Flying Daggers style to influence me, so one of my lovers has to die. The problem is, I could never figure out which one. It needs to be caused by the events of the story, not thrown in just to fit the mold, so what are my characters going to do that leads one to kill the other?

I had already assumed one of them had to kill the other, but a few weeks ago as I drifted off to sleep I had an epiphany. One of the characters I had thrown into an earlier scene and then meant to forget about would come back, angry at one of my lovers, and kill him in front of the other one. Same tragic consequences, but caused by events I already set in motion without meaning to.

I like that tremendously, since it makes my story more like one of my other favorites, In Bruges, where everything that happens in the beginning comes back around in the end. No loose ends in that film.

The thing is, I'd totally forgotten that I solved the problem until last night when I was thinking of a completely different problem, but as soon as I put both problems together I had a total eureka moment. And now this thing is clear. I can see all the way down the hallway that is this script. I think that progress bar on the left ought to zoom ahead starting today.

I still have a ways to go, but every time I sit and think and really work these problems out, the script gets stronger. One thing is for sure, when all is said and done this will be one very well thought out action script.


  1. Emily, I'm happy to read when the times comes. I was a history professor for five years and "know" that every Lady-in-Waiting worth her salt 'would' kick the king in the face every now and then...and if they didn't, somebody in Hollywood should getting around to fixing that. On the other hand, having a French king in the year 1802 might be a problem...or other trivial things of that nature. :)

  2. Thanks. I don't think I knew that you were a history professor. I will definitely take you up on your offer.

    I think all French kings should be kicked in the face just on principle.

  3. Not Louis XIV. Now that was a king! Louis XVI, on the other hand, yeah, he should be kicked in the face. Well, actually, that could be a problem as they cut off his head. Ahhh, those melodramatic French!

  4. A king, for sure, but also kind of a dickhead.

  5. ... and all of these things are making me worry that when this thing is done people will point and laugh at me.

    That's going to happen anyway, no matter what you do. Have you ever gone to and read the one-star reviews of classic books?

    The trick is to do such a good job that the people who laugh are ignorant mouth breathers, while the admirers are all smart, sexy people with lots of extra cash to spend on you.

    Me, I think my book is pretty good, but that didn't stop a reader from using the words "cliche" and "ridiculous" in a review. But do I resent that? Hell, yes... er, I mean: Not at all. It's unavoidable.

    And I have to say that I love it when a throwaway bit from early in a story turns out to be the solution to a plot problem. It makes this stuff fun.


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