Tuesday, 1 September 2009

'EXILE' - part 2

Last time, I talked about the planning for 'EXILE' (my uni script). Since then, I've taken my 12-page outline and expanded it to 16 pages hitting just over 9000 words. I've expanded the story itself and also added subplots and completely new scenes. One character has undergone a transformation to become a justified love interest as well.

I was going to produce a thorough scene breakdown, but I think the outline is detailed enough. So yesterday I got to work on the script. So far, things are going well - I've written 43 pages, averaging at 7 pages an hour. If I continue at that speed, it'll take me about another 9 hours to complete. Of course I won't stay at a constant speed because the hardest scenes are yet to come.

So far, I've only been troubled by one - a particularly emotional, disturbing and violent scene where a young girl is burnt alive at the stake as her father watches on helplessly. It was hard to get the perspective right - it would be easy to portray the people who carry out this crime as evil, crazy maniacs, but I wanted to give them another side. So it was very hard to find the right balance of blame in the scene.

I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out, but that's what rewrites are for. I know that at least 4 others scenes I'm yet to write will cause a lot of problems.

I've successfully tackled the exposition of Act I, as yesterday I thought long and hard about how to get the expo across. I came across a very short but interesting article on how to do just that.

Every bit of exposition so far has been set in a scene that is either tense or emotional:
4. Surround it with conflict or action
Distract the audience with conflict or action. In the Terminator, James Cameron presents a 10-minute scene full of nothing but exposition. 10 minutes of exposition! But the audience never notices. While Reese is explaining to Sarah – and the audience – all the pertinent background information (where he’s from, why he’s there, what the future holds, what the Terminator is), the two are constantly surrounded by conflict and action (fleeing the police and engaging in a battle with the Terminator.)
'EXILE' is - in a sense - a mystery film. We're not quite sure why things are happening. So it's very important to reveal just enough at the right time - don't overload all the info early on or the mystery will be gone, but similarly, don't leave it too late or people won't have a clue what's going on:
5. Feed it to a hungry audience
Wait to reveal information until the audience is begging to know it. Set up the desire for the reader to know the information by withholding it for as long as possible. In Chinatown, Robert Towne carefully builds anticipation. When Evelyn Mulwray’s secret in finally revealed, the audience is eager to hear the information. Callie Khouri achieves the same effect with the build-up and presentation of Louise’s secret in Thelma and Louise.
Part 3 of this blog post series will arrive when I've finished the first draft of the script (probably at the end of the week) or when I come across an interesting or troublesome moment in the writing process.

Until then, laters!

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