Sunday, January 2, 2011

Promises, Promises

This morning I was shoveling a path to our propane tank. (We've had twenty inches of snow since Thursday and blizzard winds just blew in six inches more.) I turned and saw that the roof of my new high tunnel had collapsed during the night. So my promise to CSA members that they'll have vine-ripened tomatoes in early July will be difficult to keep.

I've been promising myself that I'd learn to plot. I honored that promise during the storm, thanks to my film-school-grad daughter, who has been wrestling with a concept for a TV series. (She owes $50,000 in student loans, and good-paying jobs in the movie business are hard to get.)

We wrote one-sentence action scenes on index cards--pink for the heroine, green for employers, orange for co-workers, yellow for people in her personal life. We laid them out in reasonable chronological order, balanced the colors so all facets of the story moved along at the same time, then searched for the story arc. We identified the inciting incident, plot point 1, plot point two and the ending hook. Then we rearranged and revised until we created a solid story flow for a ten-episode pilot.

Two people have read the short and long versions of our outline, and we are now bridging gaps and filling holes. She's promised to send it to her mentor/agent this Tuesday. Nothing helps like a deadline.

My promise now is to do this with one of my WIP's. Know my inciting incident and get that on page 1. Delete scenes that don't advance the story. Define my story arc so I can concentrate on writing the story, not guessing what should happen next.

If Rachel's concept is rejected, it could be turned into a novel. The character descriptions are a hoot!


  1. First - eeek, at the amount of snow you've had! That beats anything we've had here (which has now gone, thank goodness!)
    Second, congrats on sorting out the TV concept with your daughter. Fingers crossed that it is successful.
    Third, the story arc is the all-important thing, although (I have to say it!) guessing what comes next can mean you let your characters lead you - which does work sometimes!
    Happy New Year!

  2. Hi,

    Oooh, igloo weather! You can keep it, though I dare say we'll be seeing more snow before spring sets in.

    Wow, a scriptwriter in the family. Sounds like you had fun and games with plotting, scene setting and character profiles. Fingers-crossed she does well with presentation - the world her oyster thereafter.

    I remember seeing a script for the TV series Boone (UK TV - Paula & Margaret will remember the series no doubt). To be honest, I was surprised at how basic scripts are in content re the action/dialogue, and brief descriptions re scenes, bar for upper premise per scene, yet convey a story as well as any novel. Reading such does tend to make one think hone, hone, hone that darn novel and think in terms of three minute scene takes.

    After all, look how much happens per TV advert, the good ones that reveal little cameo stories. ;)


  3. Wow! Ana, you have so much snow. (I probably shouldn't tell you this, but all of ours melted away over the was in the 50s here...)

    Index cards are a great way to plot. I love how they can be moved around to figure out what works best.

    Good luck to you and your daughter on your projects.