Over the past couple of weeks I've been working my way through the version of my TV detective story Tec (Draft 4) which I'll be submitting to Red Planet. I'd got feedback about a year ago but I've been distracted by other writing so only just got back to it. (I do have an aborted Draft 3 but I decided to start again rather than continue that one because of new ideas.)
And I've just been reading Alexandra Sokoloff on Plans. She knows her stuff. Interestingly this has always been something I do (or it became what I always do after I learned the important lesson that the antagonist is the most important character in a story).
And, you know, much as I enjoyed Wall-E (and I really did) I felt there was a fundamental story problem which nobody else seems to have commented on: the protagonist does not solve the problem at the end. He is not the one that defeats the antagonist. He's not even there.
Say what? Are those two paragraphs even relevant to one another?
I was thinking about the characters' plans in Tec and how at the end my plan was to let the police step in and save the protagonist from being killed by the antagonist who is much bigger and stronger than she is - and seriously motivated to murder. Her plan is to prove the bad guy did it, his (revised) plan is to kill her and get away with it.
But she's the protagonist, she needs to be the one that beats the bad guy: not just by being very clever in figuring out the bad guy's plan but then needing help at the end to deal with the physical threat. But she needs to beat the physical threat as well - by being very clever.
One thing I love about writing action scenes and sequences is the good news/bad news aspect and putting the protagonist in an impossible position - then figuring out how they can get out of it, and ultimately win.
So I thought, she needs to beat the bad guy. How? And I realised I had the perfect set-up in the first 10 minutes - in an early scene she defeats the bad guy in a confrontation over office security, and with that set-up I could bring in a great pay-off right at the end. Lovely.
Of course, I can't actually say what it is, you'll just have to believe me - it's great.
What's on the turntable? "Watch her ride" by Jefferson Airplane (Spotify)