Something awfully familiar about this – OR – Already seen it

Not exactly the same, but mighty darn familiar

I was THIS CLOSE to being done with the latest version of the outline for the pulpy adventure spec when my writer’s sense starting tingling.

“Something’s still not right!” screamed out my internal editor.

What? That couldn’t be possible, could it? I’d spent the past few weeks being oh-so-meticulous in reorganizing sequences, working out subplots and connecting story points. How in the names of Walter Gibson and Lester Dent could there be a problem?

I looked at the outline with a more critical eye.

Opening sequence – check.
Intro of hero, establish his world – check.
Hero’s world drastically changes while raising central question of the story – check.
Complications ensue – check.
Midpoint where hero becomes fully committed to achieving his goal (accompanied by reminder of the central question) – check.

Wait. Back that up a little. To right between the “Complications” and “Midpoint” parts.

Hokey smokes, there it was. Cue the flashing red light bulb (with optional klaxon).

Two consecutive sequences just way too similar to each other. This is what’s been bothering me.

No doubt about it. One of ’em has to go. Probably the first one. You’d think it would be no big deal to just go in and change it.

And you’d be kinda/sorta wrong.

The events that happen during these two sequences are vital to the story, so the outcome needs to stay the same. The tough part now is figuring out how to change the “what happens” in that first one so not only is it unique enough unto itself, but also falls neatly into the overall structure of the story.

As always, a daunting task. For now. But potentially solvable given some time and exploration of possible alternatives.

I cannot stress enough the importance of why you should outline your story before even considering starting on pages, and being extremely thorough about it while you do. This is where you get all the heavy lifting done by figuring everything out. Where it’s a lot easier to identify the cracks in the foundation. Where it might take you a few passes to realize what works and what doesn’t.

Then again, this is how I do it, so your approach may be totally different. But speaking for myself, I prefer to go back in and fine-tune a couple of scene descriptions consisting of one to two sentences, rather than labor my way through several pages, then have to totally junk them because they’re not working.

So my focus for the time being is fixing this, then going through the whole outline a few more times, making adjustments where necessary, until I think it’s done/ready for conversion into pages.

-Got to see JURASSIC WORLD and INSIDE OUT last week. Both very enjoyable, but for very different reasons. Of the two, I’m more interested in seeing INSIDE OUT again, mostly for the writing and storytelling aspects.

Regrettably, still haven’t seen MAD MAX: FURY ROAD yet. Of all the summer releases, this feels like the one that must be seen on the big screen. Will do what I can to rectify that.

2 thoughts on “Something awfully familiar about this – OR – Already seen it

  1. Good post! For the record, I was bored in Mad Max – so if you don’t make it, don’t cry.

    • Thanks! Wow. You’re the first person to say they didn’t like it. I’d still like to see it, though.

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