Do you remember my post about outlining? Ha! I thought that I was soooooo clever because I convinced myself that I had peace with outlines. Little did I know that my acceptance of them is the first step in the journey of 1,000 miles. But let’s be honest about the fact that this Chinese saying only applies to one script for each is its own journey. They all take 1,000 miles.
Let’s cut the shit even further in that most take a whole lot more miles. It’s just that… total excuse time… I had thought using an outline would help speed up the process. There is one slight problem with this: The first draft of my outline was pretty much just the major story moments except there are lots of smaller scenes between those bigger points needed.
*Cough cough* I initially left those baby scenes out. Examples are the car rides between places. Do you honestly think that two people first getting to know each other would remain silent an ENTIRE car trip? Yup. I don’t believe it either. The same could then be said about characters especially if they’re trying to figure out if they’re attracted to each other or not while still trying to do their job.
As a result, I added those car ride conversations. They make me want to shoot myself since they are going on foreverrrr. But the good part about these smaller moments is that they are allowing me to find my main characters’ voices. How is this possible? They just sit on their asses and talk. No actions or antagonists are there to distract them from each other.
This is the part where I have to say that it is okay if these conversations are long winded…I’m only writing my first draft. Let me repeat: This is my first draft. And I’m going to let you in on a secret about them: It’s okay if it’s fat. Yes! Yes! Yes! Let it be fat. The reason is that it allows stories be what they can be rather than what they are.
I know that this seems like semantics except it’s a really important distinction. An example is a story stuck in my head in a very specific way. What if this is the force that drives me through my various steps until I complete a draft that matches this vision? Okay. I reached a point where I felt I could stop writing. Anyone trying to say that stories need to be a certain way before they are considered “drafts” is trying to sell you his/her formula for you to reach “drafts.”
Plus, you are also selling your story short if you only approach it this way of only sticking to a very specific vision. This is especially true in your really early drafts. It’s like what the thirteenth apostle Rufus said Kevin Smith’s movie DOGMA: God doesn’t like beliefs. She likes ideas. Rufus explained that God had the rationale that ideas can change whereas beliefs don’t unless a miracle happens and this still may not change them. (I’m paraphrasing but you get the point.) Stories prisoners to only a singular vision are beliefs. They are trapped to only be a certain way… But what if that story were an idea? This means initial inspiring thoughts have the potential to grow to be so much more than its original state if drafts can be fat.
(Yes. The photo is my current draft – look at the amount of ink on the page. Gads! I know! Right? But it’s okay. Honest.)
You can play with your “idea” if you do. It also allows for breathing room and one to say… “Holy shit! My story can be so much better if I add “X,” “Y,” “Z” and purple elephants, etc… But this line of thought is not possible if stories can only be one way like a “belief.” And it was through my process of working with my recent outline that helped me have this very writing insight.
See… I thought that I would be trapped into telling my story a certain way if I outlined. But I’ve decided to approach my outline like it’s an “idea” rather than a “belief.” I then went “fuck it” and started writing pages. This soon led me to realize about the missing scenes and feeling the need to let my characters just talk. I can trim things down once I’ve gotten my pages out. This will also be significantly easier now that I allowed my story to be what it can be rather than insisting that it only be one way.
Hopefully this helps…
Let me know if you have any questions:
Hollysorianoblog at gmail dot com