A world of my own design OR Atlas, schmatlas

The land is mine to manipulate as I see fit. So there.
This land is mine to manipulate as I see fit.  So there.

Making some good progress on the western outline. This “working at least 30 minutes a day” thing has really moved things along; actually much faster than originally anticipated. Give it a try if you haven’t already.

Sure, there are still some small details here and there that need to be hammered out, but for the most part the majority of the story is pretty close to being done.

When I started this, I wanted to make it as realistic as possible (or at least as much as a story about a female train engineer in the Old West can be), and that included using real geographic settings.  I wanted the fort here, the showdown here, etc.

But that just raised more questions. If the fort’s here, how far is it to this other point, and how fast would the train have to go in order to get there, and could trains go that fast during that time, and was there even a rail line between those two points?

This was becoming way more complicated than it had to be. I want to tell a story, not set up a math word problem.

So as I was going back and forth between the new and previous drafts, it dawned on me: I can just make stuff up, including where things happen.

I’m the writer. I’m allowed to do that.

So out went locations that actually exist, and in came totally fabricated ones (yet another benefit to all those years of listening to old-time radio westerns).

The feeling’s quite liberating. No longer do I have to worry about making sure every single detail is spot-on accurate, and can now focus on developing a rousing tale of adventure populated with colorful characters.

Which is how it should be.

-Major crisis narrowly averted! I’d lost a flash drive with a lot of script stuff on it. Only during the DREAMSHIP rewrite did I start making additional copies onto my hard drive, so a lot of projects I’d started before that were apparently gone forever.

I did a fairly good job of masking my pain, but was internally kicking myself for not having more backups (20/20 hindsight and all that).

Happy ending – K found the flash drive. Lesson learned – I’m in the process of saving everything on Google Docs so I never have to panic like that again.

You’re probably thinking “that’ll never happen to me. I’m always careful.” I used to think that too. Now it’s all about taking extra precautions.

-Movie of the Moment – FRANKENWEENIE (2012). A lot of fun that cleverly pays homage to classic monster movies. Parental advisory – V cried when the dog was killed (done very tastefully offscreen)

3 thoughts on “A world of my own design OR Atlas, schmatlas

  1. I love the Western genre. I’ve been on a tear recently watching about a dozen movies. I’m revisiting the “Man with No Name” trilogy from Sergio Leone. Also completely fell in love with “Once Upon a Time In the West.” Wow, a classic. Other gems have been, “The Violent Men” with Glenn Ford, “High Noon” with Gary Cooper, “Warlock” with Henry Fonda & Anthony Quinn, and “Hang ’em High” & “High Plains Drifter” with Clint Eastwood. I’m currently injecting a “western” type story into my old action spec using the same Western beats that are pretty much there, but looking at it through modern day eyes. The cop is the anti-hero gunslinger with a past, the bad guy mirrors the cop and isn’t wildly different, but must be stopped. The “town” or “settlement” is a homeless shelter. Glad to hear about the progress with your project. It’s good news that Kevin Costner’s “Hatfields & McCoys” did so well on the History Channel. Maybe there is hope yet for a Western return to the big screen too!

    • Definitely. With recent successes like DEADWOOD and the often-ignored OPEN RANGE, it’s possible to make a high-quality Western. It’ll be interesting to see how THE LONE RANGER does; I’m still on the fence about it, especially since my script is similar to that action-adventure style. Hopefully it won’t kill the genre, or at least put it in movie jail for a few years. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying doing all this “research”.

  2. I tend to get carried away making up wholly fictional landscapes, so I like to pick real world locations that sorta fit. The thing I’m working on now has a place with 9 areas and 48 constituent sub-places because that’s how many regions and ceremonial counties England has. It’s not an England analogue, I just needed an accent that was middling distance from where the heroine lived. A few minutes of poking around Wikipedia gave me what I needed. When I’m done with this draft a search and replace will dump West Midlands and Norfolk for more correct names.

    Also, this post reminds me of an answer the creator of Babylon 5 is reputed to have given to someone asking how fast a particular spaceship flew. It flew at the speed of plot.

    p.s. I pimp Open Range to anyone who I can make listen.

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