Monday, January 05, 2009

A Feather for Bill

Bad things about Reading (continued from last post): Rubbish Internet.

Anyway what I'm really writing about is my kid fantasy series Air: I have finished the first episode. Yay!

I had written the first draft of the first episode after lots of detailed planning but it came up very short at only 17 minutes. I then printed it out and went through it making small changes and marking where I could add some stuff. That was back before Christmas.

Yesterday I finally got around to putting in those edits and adding the extra stuff, by the end of that I had got it up to 21 pages, well, 20 plus a few lines really. And it needed to be 25 pages to be at a usable length.

As mentioned in this morning's entry I decided the best thing to do was to go back to basics, my original planning and see what could be added without being mere padding. Another issue was that my structure for this series is quite rigid, with three separate but linked plot lines going on in each episode I couldn't add extra elements outside those plot lines without corrupting the whole concept.

My next pass through the script added one extra scene and some additional scene material. But it was getting dialogue heavy - particularly bad for fast-moving kids TV.

I did another pass mid-afternoon which extended another couple of scenes, breaking one of them into two (which made more sense). The length was then 22 pages.

This evening I did yet another pass, extended and broke up another scene, adding a new location and more action, and the feather, near the beginning. And much more useful scene action and dialogue in the second split scene - where a policeman thinks that Air is an abused girl who has gone into her own fantasy world.

25 pages! Let us dance.

But what's this about a feather? I was reading Bill Martell's scriptwriting tips yesterday (or the day before, or something) and he discussed throwing things into the script that expanded character and provided things that could be paid off later in the script. Even if you don't know what it might be for when you write it. One of his examples was a soldier that is killed in a particular location, later the protagonist is in the same place again and needs a gun ... of course the dead soldier had one.

Essentially in Air I did this: The main character, Air, is in her world but must escape, she's being chased by the Witchbrood and finds the only rune-weaver is an apprentice called Brendan. Brendan manages to make the rune-cast just as one of the Witchbrood fires an arrow at Air. The arrow clips Brendan as it passes but he's turned himself into a raven. Air is carried to our world, and a black feather floats down on to her where she lays. That feather will be important at the end, not sure how yet, but it will.

In my penultimate pass I was also looking at the actions of the protagonist, to ensure that she was the active, driving, leading character in all the scenes she was in at the start (she can be disorientated after arriving in our world but she needs to be established as strong). In the earlier version it had been Brendan that led the way to the roof of the tower, in the newer version I changed it round to being Air making the decisions.

In other news...

I'll be working Bristol from this Thursday for 1 week (I may well commute from Reading, the journey is only 1 hour), and then probably in Lancaster for at least 3 months. And I can probably commute from home for that one. Yay! (I kept telling my wife there wasn't a problem with me getting a new contract, but someone has to do the worrying in the relationship.)

What's on the turntable? "Man of Our Times" by Genesis from "Duke".

I loved this weekend, BBC4 were doing prog rock. I'm aprog rock geek: Yes, Genesis, Camel, Gryphon, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Gordon Giltrap, I love 'em all.

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