story, story, story
What will happen to Jen in season 1? Where will she start and end? Will she get what she wants? Will she get what she doesn't want? What about her friends? What do they want? Will they get it? Who will be dating? Who will be single?
And of course, the two most pressing story questions:
-- Will it make sense, from a story perspective, if aliens come down to earth halfway through the 4th episode and turn our lovable heroine into an evil anti-Jen?
-- And will it be believable, from a character perspective, if the evil anti-Jen jumps out of a plane in the season finale with a parachute, a "family-sized" package of Charmin, and a diabolical plan to toilet-paper the entire city just as rain clouds are rolling in?
Important Note: Please don't repeat any of the above information to anyone. I'm telling that to you, my faithful readers, in the strictest confidence. It would be terrible if the world at large knew of the alien invasion and Jen's "evil" side before the show even got on the air! There would be no suspense... no drama... no reason to tune in! So I thank you in advance for your discretion.
Anyhow, back to the point - which was about story stuff. And the point I was trying to make (before I got sidetracked, as I tend to do) is that there are so many questions to ask and so many possibilities to consider when you're figuring out what could happen in the life of a character...
Slowly but surely, I'm finding the answers.
One of the most important things I've discovered is that if you listen hard enough, the stories seem to tell themselves. When you start with solid, layered characters, then it's not so much about trying to "create" somewhere for them to go... it's more about "realizing" where they're telling you they need and want to go. That's why character work is so important. In my opinion, if you don't know where the story should go - or if you're banging your head against a wall because breaking down the story is proving to be so difficult - then the reason is because you don't know your characters well enough.
There. That's my 2 cents on writing for today. For those of you who aren't writers and don't care what I think about writing, my apologies for having bored you.
Let's get back to something more interesting about story: How the process works.
The process now is much the same as it was when we were working on the pilot. Billy and I talk about where we think the characters are going, I write it up, and we send it off to the network. Then we talk with them, get their feedback, and incorporate their notes into the next draft. Once we have a high-level summary of where the characters are going this first season, then we'll break it down into a high-level summary of where the characters are going in each individual episode. Then we'll work with the network on that, and then break that down into a detailed summary for each episode... and from there I'll write the actual scripts.
It's a lot of work and there's a lot to do. Winter (when we're shooting) may seem like a long way away... but it's not. From my perspective, with 5 scripts that need to be written and approved, winter is right around the corner. And that said, I hope you'll excuse me now because I really need to get back to work! :-)