The Weight of the Details

In the last couple of days I’ve watched two episodes of Firefly, an episode of Dollhouse, and an episode of BSG.  Timed the scenes.  Looked at the story structure and the act breaks.  I even looked at the action and dialogue – imagined seeing the words on the page.  I saw a handful of scenes that must be 7 – 10 pages in length.  I’m not worried about writing long scenes anymore, so long as the scenes themselves have movement within.

In my case, I’ve come to accept that my entire third act MUST take place in one location with all characters present.  I believe the audience demands it.  I’ve kept them waiting, baiting them and leading them to this singular moment in time.  They need to understand what circumstances brought the characters to this point so they will care what happens next.  I even think I managed to do it without bogging everything down in exposition.

I have a little further to go and I made a point of stopping last night to keep my perspective fresh.  Spent all day long in that scene and all I did was write four new pages.  Kept going back, editing, refining, rethinking, and figuring out how to tie six very complicated lives together in a way that leaves no holes.

It’s funny how three sentences can shape a back story, or how throwing the word, ‘rendezvous’ into one sentence serves to explain a character’s entire arc.  I don’t need to break it down into nitty gritty details all the time.  Doing so would only bog the story down.  Stating simply that someone and someone have somewhere else to be, is enough to explain their heightened sense of urgency.  I don’t have to get into modes of travel, who they’ll meet when they get there, and how they came up with that plan.

This morning I took out Joss Whedon’s  Serenity script and read the first 50 pages.  I was taking a closer look at how he describes action – when he gets into details and when he leaves things to the imagination.  I already see where I’ll be doing some refining.  Just taking a break to write this while my mind makes the adjustment from Serenity to Republic of Doyle.

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