Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking a Break

Burnout is one tough sonofabitch.

I've decided to take a break from Lupus Moon. Just a little respite to rest my brain and gain some clarity. This past week was spent tossing around old ideas, characters, scenes, dialogue - you name it. I can't fathom how many permutations of the story I went through, all in the name of literary freedom. I realize that with reworking the story as a novel comes the ability and opportunity to expand, expound and incorporate previous material to enhance what I already have, but I took it way too far, stressing so hard about "getting it right" that all I wound up doing was frustrating the hell out of myself. Nothing seemed right. Then something did, only to seem totally wrong again the next moment. It got to the point that the whole thing felt like a chore - one I was losing interest in.

So I'm stepping away from it for a bit. I left myself in a good place, having hammered out the back story and motivation for my villains (creating conflict within that faction), the effects of which will obviously affect, influence and inform the rest of the novel. I have my heading, so I should be able to dive right into it whenever I return.

In the meantime, I'm going to return to familiar territory and develop a couple screenplays - one a reworking of and old short and the other a contained comedic feature that's the new number one contender for debut feature. Think Friday meets Barbershop meets Clerks. The most exciting thing about the latter project is that it's 100% new - not a rewrite of older material. I'm free to do whatever I want without the spectre of a previous draft to get in the way (where I'm fighting with myself to cram new material with old). It'll be interesting to see what I can do when I apply the skills and tactics I've picked up on a project that's "from scratch". It's been that long...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Tale of Two (Make That Three) Outlines

Somehow, I thought this would be easier.

Not that I think writing a novel is a cakewalk; it's not. But I thought it would be easier to build an outline for a book based off an existing screenplay - even with the re-integration of old ideas. Things were going good until I hit a snag in the second act (Do novels have acts?) that forced me to re-examine my story. Then it happened. An old idea re-emerged, one that would have catastrophic effects on the entire story. I liked the idea so much at the time (giving my protagonist and chief antagonist a shared history), that I put it in. Of course, it was like trying to shove a cube in a round hole, which meant that major changes needed to be made; so much so that I started a second outline. Whole new beginning, totally different intro for my heroine, beefed up tension between two of the villains - good stuff. But now, something seems off. I tried to dismiss it as apprehension rooted solely in the fact that this new outline is a drastic departure from the "real" story of Lupus Moon - at least the story I've worked with for so long that it seems "right." However, and despite the advantages it has afforded me plot-wise, the new outline still feels wrong.

The answer? A third outline - one that combines elements of the first two. I have no idea if this will resolve my nagging psychological misgivings, but it feels like the best way to tackle the problem, so I'm going to listen to my instincts. The root of the problem is simple: I envision this novel as the first in a series, same way I did when Lupus Moon was a spec screenplay. And I want to make the first story as kick-ass as possible. First impressions mean everything and I'm putting a shit-ton of pressure on myself in an effort to swing for the fences. Part of me thinks maybe I should relax - take some more time away from the project and come back fresh. The other part, though, wants to grind it out - figure out the problems and keep it moving. I was lucky enough to finally land a new job, and the potential compensation is such that I'm immediately able to make plans for things I thought I'd have to table indefinitely. Which, of course, means a return to filmmaking, and a renewed desire to work on scripts for shorts and my in-development web series. Just one more thing to add to the pot to complicate things.

But hey, better to have multiple equally-desirable projects to try and juggle than nothing at all, right?