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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Filling Plot Holes

So, when we last met, this is where we left off -- a rough 1st draft of an A Plot for my Doctor Who spec.

-> Doctor Who Arrives
--> Get Caught In A Dust Storm
---> They Hear A Dragon Roar (Doctor understands it... sort of...??)
--> Hide in Hovel
-> Meet Locals (aaawkward)
--> Learn about locale (Discovery) - (Lots of weird disturbances)
---> Earthquake causes Sinkhole - swallows TARDIS.
--> Investigate
-> Doctor/Companions/Locals Descend into Sinkhole
--> TARDIS is gone, dragged away??
---> Enter into underground cavern - lots of huge reptilian eggs.
--> Locals start collecting them (to eat)
-> See the TARDIS
--> Locals run away
---> Large CLAW on top of the TARDIS - HUGE DRAGON bears down on them
--> Run!
-> Discover remnants of ancient tech - a giant cryogenic prison cell
--> Doctor figures out who/what it is
---> Doctor Who Faces Down the Dragon.
--> Recapture Dragon (thanks to brilliant last minute improvised plan)
-> Doctor Who Leaves

Of course, with any first draft, there's always things that're bound to be changed, or tossed. Most often that's because once you get to the end of your first draft, there's a good chance that what's going on at the beginning no longer fits.

And that's where the filling in of plot holes begins.

So, right off the top: The Doctor and crew are above ground, caught in a sandstorm and they 'Hear A Dragon Roar'.

Very cool effect, great idea for a 'moment'... but if they can hear a dragon roar in the midst of a raging sand storm -- especially when said Dragon is later revealed to have been trapped underground, well... yeah. That's a problem.

So, there's two ways to tackle this -- one infinitely stronger than the other, but also often much harder to implement.

The first trick - and the weakest solution - is the 'hand wave'. Toss a bit of technobabble, explain it away as quickly as possible, then bolt for the exit and hope no one notices.

If I were going for a 'hand wave' moment, I would probably play something like the 'Psychic/Telepathic' card. Oh, what was that? Yeah, that roar you heard? That was only in your head. It was a Psychic roar. Oooh! (Of course I'd probably add the word 'Primal' in there too, make it a bit more sexy).

A Primal Psychic Roar!

Of course 'hand-wave' moments in and of themselves often tend create the opportunity for (exponentially) more plot-holes down the line. You see, now our enemy is a 'Psychic' Dragon. Which means now you have to set what the limits of those powers are. What it can and can't do. Who it can effect, how it would effect them. Is the Doctor immune? How does he react? (You see what I mean?)

It's all nice and fun and incredibly distracting -- believe me, I'd end up following this rabbit hole until I'd written a 40-page treatise on the politics of ancient Psychic Dragon culture -- but, ultimately, it's not all that helpful in the long term. (Tho' if you're looking to write an Eragon fanfic...)

The second trick - and the harder of the two - is what I call the 'plausible compromise'. Where you take your moment, boil it down to its seed, find the essence of what you were really trying to do and then rewrite the scene to make it make sense.

Logically, I can't have a Dragon Roar because, well, the Dragon's not topside. I could make the Dragon topside, but then that would change the entire course of my story. Which, at this stage, is still an option (if I feel it's the stronger choice).

Another solution could end up being as simple as where they're positioned. If they're caught in the sandstorm while standing on the spot that eventually gives way into the sinkhole (that swallows the TARDIS), you could have a moment where they're in a sandstorm, the ground shakes beneath them and you hear a muffled roar. This gives a bit more of a setup for the actual physical event of the sinkhole. It also tells us that there's something underground. Later, with the locals, they can talk about repeated earthquakes.

See, now the sinkhole isn't just a 'sinkhole' it's the place where the Dragon was trying to make its escape from the cavern.

So, for now, that seems like a stronger option to me, so that replaces the earlier point.

---> They Hear A Dragon Roar (Doctor understands it... sort of...??)

becomes

---> The ground shakes beneath them, they hear a Primal (!) muffled roar from the Earth itself.

You can even keep the note about the Doctor 'sort of' being able to understand what it said. (Though I'm sure this 'understanding' would be more akin to 'what the *bleep*')

Now, yes, I know it seems like a small thing here, that I've just spent a whole lot of text to justify the changing of a few words... but it also allowed for the thought process to get underway, which allowed me to ask some good questions which, in the end, helped me to strengthen my understanding of my own story (and how I want to tell it).

I won't do the rest of the points here, as I'm sure you've got the gist of where I'm going with this. But if you're not doing it, if you've never been a 'beat sheet' kind of person, maybe this is a great time to give it a go for your next tale.

Have some fun with it. Explore.

Anyways, that's all for now -- see you Friday.

Cheers!
Brandon

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