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Monday, October 17, 2011

Freeze Frame

So, two episodes down, one left to go to get a good idea of the show itself, how it flows, if there are any patterns that emerge, etc.

But what comes afterwards?

I mean, yeah you've got Research. But then what?

Brainstorming, mostly.

I've already broached this subject -- sort of hopped around the list -- when I came up with my title ahead of time.

'The Dragons Of Iowa'

Which, of course, well, leads to the question: What would be the number one thing that has to happen to The Doctor in an episode called 'The Dragons of Iowa'?

Yes, we're going to have the Doctor face down a Dragon.

Pretty straight forward, really. Makes a lot of sense. You get what you pay for and it's labeled right on the box.

Of course, this Dragon will be an Alien, and will have been stuck in a primordial/technological prison for the last half-million years or so.

But yeah, the iconic image I have in my mind is that of the Doctor, sonic screwdriver pointed up at the giant, green, scaly thing looming over him, wings spread -- possibly about to douse him in flame.

Not sure how on-the-nose I'll go with the whole 'dragon' thing, but that image has me stoked for a whole host of other moments I want to bring alive.

You know, I often hear a lot of new writers asking 'what books should I read to get better at writing for TV?' and there really is a fantastic crop out there.

But, in my opinion, one of the best books ever written about writing for a visual medium has got to be 'Understanding Comics' by Scott McCloud.

I'm not sure if it's just because of the way I write, or how I view the world but for me, when I can see that one, still image in my mind; when I can see the entirety of my story summed up in one frozen frame... that's when I know I'm ready.

The book is fantastic because it helps you to learn to think visually.

In Comics it's all about trying to tell a compelling tale with no moving parts. Saying the most you possibly can with that one perfect image and a tiny bit of text.

It's a way of thinking about my work and my stories that I've been trying to perfect over the years. It's not always easy (and frequently frustrating) but when you nail it... it really, really nails it down.

In a Battlestar Galactica spec that I did, one called 'Reign', the image I had in my mind was that of Adama standing there, alone, quietly staring at the ghosts of all the people who had died under his command.

You see, one of the things that always bugged me about the show was that for all the things we learned about Adama over the years, I felt like we never got a chance to get inside his head.

I mean, how does a man who has survived as much as he has, has seen as much death and destruction as he has, manage to cope? Hell, how does he get out of bed in the morning?

That image, of him, alone in CIC, surrounded by the quiet stares of the dead was haunting to me. And it inspired me to write that whole script.

And that's what it's all about, really: Inspiration.

When I think about TV - this wonderful bastard child of Film and Radio - and the tales I want to tell, the very first thing I always try to do is find that image. That one frozen moment that encapsulates the entirely of my excitement for the project.

Furthermore, when I start to write without having found that image, I find that my work is also, well, listless. Lacking direction. Mediocre (or worse).

It's something to refer to, something to keep you on track, something to strive for.

Once you find that, the first part, the hardest part, is done. You're officially into your story. You build around it.

Then it's: What leads to that moment? What happens after that moment?

And, hopefully, you're so freaking excited about finding that one moment that you find another, and then another. Until, hopefully, your script is chock-full of awesome moments.

But I digress.

For now, I'm going to break down one more episode. Then I'm going to try and beat out a story. Then, if that works out, I'll try an outline... or two or three.

One step at a time, tho'. One step at a time.

G'night folks! See you on Wednesday.


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