Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Re-Build

So this weekend ended up being more bust than boom but I still managed to sneak in one pretty cool scene for my Doctor Who spec AND finish off a re-vamp of my pitch bible for Pipeline.

One of the notes that I had a hard time wrapping my head around was 'why does this story start now?'.  Originally, I'd started my tale one year after a major shakeup in my world, I wanted to show this dichotomy between the old and the new - these two worlds colliding.

But the note made me see my story from a different perspective - mostly that I'd just managed to leap over a year's worth of some quite compelling Drama.  A whole host of stories that, due to where I was starting my tale, were relegated to back story.  (ahh, back story - teacher, mother, secret lover...)

So I jumped back a year in my world, starting it the day of this massive change.  I'm still able to show my world pre-chaos, before things get crazy, but it's also some great fodder for stories because this world (and the characters living in it) are forced into this quick, violent change.

Yes, unfortunately, this also meant that a great deal of my characters histories had to be rewritten, but I was shocked at how positive this one change ended up being; instantly the ideas started to flow, story concepts, character arcs - things that I couldn't do before, groundwork I had only originally 'said' happened could now be shown.

Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked with how it turned out.  I sent it off to Chris on Sunday night and he's giving it a read tonight... with a bit of luck he's going to read this and go 'wow!'.

One of the hardest things for me to learn over the years is figuring out 'where the hell am I supposed to start this story?'.  For a long time I used to agonize over details like this but, eventually, I learned that there really isn't a shortcut here.

The ultimate lesson here was: I'm a writer, so... write.  Write it out, see how it feels.  Does it let me tell the story I want to tell?  Does it give me ideas for where to go next?  Does what I wrote match what I wanted to say?  Do these changes make the story better -- or break the whole concept?

Not that I have to write the whole finished product, just the 'beginning'.  Set it up, see how it flows.  Change a detail or two, write another few pages.

The best part about this exercise is that out of all this stuff that I wrote, that I might think is crap, or that might just end up being binned, there's often little bits that I can hang on to -- stuff that won't necessarily fit into what I'm writing now... but could be useful later.

Basically, the moral of that story is that it's never a complete waste of time to do the long division.  To write it all out, to let the mind wander and play.

In this case, all it took was that one note to get me to go 'oh, yeah... why DID I start it there?' which made me say 'well, let's see how it would look like this... or this...'.  All-in-all, I wrote about four different 'new' beginnings for my concept, just to see which was the best one.  I probably could've done more, but by the time I hit #3 I was already feeling that 'eureka' moment.

And from there, well, it all fell back together rather quickly... and, like I said, for the better.

Let's just hope that Chris feels the same way.

Anyways, that's all for now,
Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, January 27, 2012

Side Story

So, I've been spending small amounts of time working on trying to get Pipeline up and running, time that has slowly been coalescing into something called 'done'.

I thought that I had it finished earlier, and then I had a few rather large holes poked into it. And the show Arctic Air didn't help much either (there were quite a few similarities between their pilot and mine).

On the bright side, I took to the challenge with a great bit of gusto and now, finally, think that I've got something that'll hold up to the scrutiny of the masses.

Of course time will tell on this - and Chris has yet to see the neat bits of sleight-of-hand that I've pulled in order to not have to rewrite large chunks of it from scratch - but once all that is sorted, I think we might finally be ready to move onto 'let's go pitch this' territory.

I hope.

In Doctor Who spec script news... well, there isn't any. *sad face* I'm hoping I can get a solid crack at it this Sunday... you know, get up real early while the rest of the world's asleep and empty my guts all proper-like.

We'll see.

Finally, I'm going to look at Condos tomorrow! Very exciting. It turns out that, with the addition of our youngin' (who's now trying to throw his body around in some sort of 'pre-walking/pre-death-throe'-ish fashion), our little one-bedroom has officially become 'too small'.

So I get to go looking at many, many places that I can't possibly afford.

But... hey, once I'm all rich from having multiple shows on the air and awards and such, we can all look back on this and laugh, right?

Right?

Until then I look at the price of some of these listings and try not to imagine the hollowed carcass of my bank account.

Good times!
Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting there!

Alright, sooo, even with all the distractions and such I've managed to get about half-way through my vomit draft.

I'm having a bit of trouble getting the dialogue just where I want it (I'm trying to go with era-specific slang, etc) so I've decided to just gloss over it for the moment. I'll do a dialogue pass later on and hopefully that'll give me what I'm looking for.

Of course because the dialogue isn't exactly where I want it, some conversations are definitely feeling flat and my script is probably going to end up a tad short because of it... but that's okay. With the vomit draft it's all about just getting as much out of you and onto the page as possible... sometimes it's too much, sometimes it's not enough.

Either way it's all about the seeds (hidden in said vomit... yeah, you're welcome for that).

What do I mean about 'Seeds'? I mean to take another pass, go over the vomit draft and look for all the spots that can easily be 'expanded upon'; where more detail or situations will help the script come to life. Usually I find them by looking for spots where I've inadvertently glossed over something or was unintentionally vague - little bits, yes, but sometimes they're fantastic because they can lead down into some great bits of dialogue or descriptions or reactions that you might not have otherwise ever found.

Once you're done a good Seed pass (which usually ends up as a 1.5 Draft) then I go in for the proverbial kill with a 2nd draft that specializes in solid Dialogue pass and scene tightening. Of course you're never really 'done' at a 2nd draft, but with a good outline and 2 passes I've usually got something strong enough to send out and get real (useful) feedback on.

Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly good about a Seed draft I'll send it out to some of my closest and most trusted readers. I've found that I definitely want to be careful at this stage because if there's any particular place where I'm feeling 'vulnerable' about my script, it's usually here. Even though the structure is down, everything's still very raw - like a skinned knee - and the wrong comment at the wrong time can cause some damage to my interpretation of my own story.

What do I mean by this? Well, have you ever written something and then, somewhere along the line you just forget what you liked about it, or what got you excited about it in the first place? It's something akin to that. I've found, the hard way (unfortunately) that the wrong comment at the wrong time can push the story (or me) into a weird state of uncertainty where I'm not sure what the hell I was thinking when I started this bloody thing. So far I've deduced that it's something of a self-esteem thing (guilty-writer syndrome...?) but the good news is that it seems to be getting better as I write more.

Hopefully it's one of those things that'll just fade with experience.

Anyways, yes, I'm making headway. With any luck this weekend will be quiet and I can knock out another 20 pages or so.

Fingers crossed!

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oh, Hello There

So I've been off doing a host of parental-related duties as of late, trying to fit in momentary pulses of 'writing' when I can.

There haven't been many, but progress has been made.

On the bright side, I've taken the notes from the writer's group and made the changes to my outline - now Mary is left home (for all of 10 mins or so) and ends up in the caverns alone.

This actually works better because we get to have the Doctor with William (which is working out rather well) AND, at the end we get to have William on the other side of the cavern as Mary emerges carrying her son. Far more dramatic/scary.

Plus, with Mary on her own I get to show some of her resourcefulness (and you can certainly see where Josie gets it) - I haven't settled entirely on what these new scenes will be yet, but I'm definitely having fun playing around with the possibilities.

In other news, I had my first session of the New Year for that web series that I created. It's coming along quite well and we actually managed to get drafts done for 3 episodes with the little bit of time that we had. With a bit of luck we'll manage to get this thing wrapped and start pre-production sometime soon (and then I'll be able to talk about it more).

What else?

A bit more of a chat with Chris about Pipeline, a few more changes that need to be made. That might be coming to fruition soon as well.

Lots of irons in the fire and lots of responsibilities to juggle. Looks like 2012 might be very productive -- if I can portion out my time correctly.

Progress. Oh sweet, sweet progress.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOOOOOPAAAAAA

Even though I'm Canadian living in Canada, SOPA/PIPA still poses a grave threat for the internet I know and love.



I've been chatting with a bunch of folks lately about this coming legislation and, so far, the consensus boils down to either 'I have no idea what you're talking about' or 'we're Canadian, it won't affect us' but considering how much of our traffic has to go through American channels before it makes it to our little peepers, this is definitely something that netizens of all nationalities should be getting educated about.


In fact, as Canadians, we're sort of getting a double-whammy here with Bill C-11 (formerly known as Bill C-32) coming fast down the pipe as well.

Not only would we be getting, essentially, the Great Firewall of China [USA edition] we'll also be getting our own digital exploits locked down and controlled through this DMCA-like clusterfuck.

Right now, as a Canadian living under Harper Government 2: Official Majority (This time it's personal!), it feels like I'm just waiting for the dust to clear.

Thankfully, there is some light at the end of the ol' fibre optic cable.

According to Ars Technica, the Anti-SOPA/PIPA protests today (where Reddit, Destructoid, Wikipedia, BoingBoing and more blacked out their homepages and pointed users to resources to help protest the bills) have had some serious impacts, causing 13 US Senators to pull support for PIPA.

It's a start, it's a sign of something good.

We're still sort of screwed with the whole C-11 thing (unless we can figure out some magical way of making the Harper Government listen to reason), but it's better than nothing.

Still... totally open to suggestions on the whole C-11 thing though.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 16, 2012

And Away We Go!

So I got my notes back from my writer's group on Saturday and, much to my delight, the reviews were pretty solid. They liked my story, they thought that it flowed well, had some great turns and, overall, was fun.

Which is kind of funny considering how worried I was about this thing turning out to be too dark.

One of the best notes was that everyone seemed to have an arc in this episode except the Doctor. Now, as far as I can tell, the Doctor doesn't usually have an arc in non-essential story lines... but it seems like something worth playing around with.

The idea was to incorporate the idea that William, the patriarch of this 1930s family, has somehow lost his stature because of the 'loss' of their son. He'd sent Jonathan down there, alone and now that he's gone missing, the mother and daughter don't think all to highly of him.

The Doctor's 'arc' this episode could be to help try to redeem the father.

What I liked about this note was that it also fits in with the overall theme of the rest of series 6 (where, I believe, the Doctor helps 3 other dads reclaim their stature as fathers, of sorts).

Now, in order for that to work I'm going to have to pretty much pair the father with the Doctor... which means taking the mother, Mary, out of the picture.

Right now I have her going down into the caverns with him, which I like, but he ends up spending all his time with Mary instead of the Doctor.

In fact, right now, the Doctor ends up alone.

And we must never leave the Doctor alone for long. He's at his best when he's trying to explain incredibly large-scale and complex things to incredibly normal people.

So that's the BIG change to make. Somehow I'm going to have to find a way to either leave Mary behind at the house (fretting over the remnants of her family that's all disappeared below the Earth) or have her set off on her own.

Hrmm! Maybe that's the ticket there. He orders her to stay back at the house in typical 'I'm the man' sort of style but she heads down there anyway. It allows him and the Doctor to spend time together and it creates some tension while, hopefully, making Mary that much stronger of a character (we'll certainly understand where Josie gets her guts from then).

Nice!

Actually, Sunday ended up being a pretty great day with very few distractions -- I managed to pump out 19 pages of my vomit draft for this.

Of course I'm going to have to go back and change the last 5 or so now... but yeah, I'm definitely off to a good start.

And that, really, is the best part about taking the time to put together a good outline. By the time you get down to writing your story you already know it and if you hit a bump like the one above (or come up with something better) it's a lot easier to make the changes you need because you already have a solid idea of what connects to what.

Anyways, I'm going to play around with these changes and I think they're really going to make this thing even stronger.

See you on Wednesday!
Brandon

Friday, January 13, 2012

Final Outline Part 4

Alright, here we are, the big finish Outline-wise. I've been going over this thing all week, trying to really make it sing and I've sent this version to my Writing Group to see if I can get some extra feedback before I set off into Script territory.

Fingers crossed.

Anyways, here we are!

Amy and Rory follow and find themselves face-to-face with the Dragon. There is much screaming. Just as the Dragon is preparing to strike, the Doctor steps out of a green-glowing alcove behind the Dragon – he calls it by name ‘Nial Shi’alvarek, Queen of the Ordovites’. She spins in the cavern, padding toward him, curious. The Doctor backs out of the tunnel, back into the Hub, to the room full of eggs. He explains that he knows what they did to her, what the Silurians did to her people.

The Ordovites came to Earth fleeing a dying homeworld. They came looking to colonize it, to find a new home… at the height of the Silurian empire. Her people were no match for the Silurians advanced technology and they were decimated. He reveals that she is the last of her kind, the last Ordovite in existence. He knows her feelings of violation, of loss. But he is the Doctor… and he fixes things. A terrible injustice has been done to her, he understands her rage. He offers her a chance to start anew - to get free of this world. He offers her hope.

The Doctor seems to be making progress, the Dragon seems calmer, placated -- But then the Josie sees William and Mary exiting a tunnel, both struggling to carry the gravely injured Jonathan. Josie calls out for her momma and the Dragon turns, sees Jonathan, the thief. She becomes enraged and charges at William, Mary and Jonathan. As the Dragon nears the locals, Rory says he’s sorry. He picks up the crowbar and smashes an egg with it. The Dragon skids. Rory smashes another. The Dragon turns. Rory knocks an egg loose and picks it up. The Dragon charges him instead. Rory runs into the tunnel – as he passes the Doctor he yells ‘figure something out, fast!’ The Dragon is hot on his heels.

The Doctor leads Amy to the green-glowing cell, says this is where the Ordovite was held captive – that they need to get it back in here somehow – Amy knows just the thing, leads him down the alcove but up to the Amber-glowing, ancient computer. The Doctor scans it in awe, revealing that it’s ancient Silurian technology. Millions of years old. He marvels as he realizes that, somehow, this tech has adapted itself to feed off of a bio-electric field – a last ditch effort to stay functioning as its batteries ran dry. It’s been pulling energy directly out of the surrounding land itself. That’s why the crops are dust, why nothing will grow – there’s nothing left to take.

But… if the batteries just need a charge! The Doctor says that he could go back to the TARDIS, rig up a simple a quantum field generator – the Dragon roars, shaking the caverns. Says maybe just enough to get it operating short-term, recharge batteries to full later. He starts rummaging around underneath the computer, looking for the battery core.

Rory calls out that he’s getting tired. Amy runs off into the tunnels, calling out that she’s coming, telling him to run toward her voice. He calls back, his voice getting louder yet barely audible over the roar of the Dragon. Amy sees that he has a bit of a lead as the enraged Dragon smashes and bangs its way into the tunnel walls – which crack with the force of its impact. He hands the egg off to Amy, almost out of breath and hides in an alcove as Amy continues running.

She calls out to the Dragon, running up the green-glowing alcove, into the massive, empty space of the cryo-cell. The enraged Dragon follows her inside the cell. Amy backs up against the wall as it enters and soon fills most of the cell. Amy asks herself what the hell she was thinking.

The Doctor yells AHA! And finds an ornate compartment shrouded in stone. He slides it open and inside is a faintly glowing ball on a pedestal. Brilliant! He starts changing things on his sonic screwdriver, little sound effects as he rifles through settings. Finally he points it at the battery and ‘fires’. The sonic screwdriver emits a high-pitched whine that fades as the ball begins to glow brighter. Soon the screwdriver’s lights go out. The Doctor says ‘that should hold you for an hour or so’.

“Doctor!” The Doctor jumps, hitting his head. Rory comes running up behind him, calling him. He emerges from under the computer to see Amy trapped in the room with the Dragon on screen.

The Dragon lowers its head at her, as if to get a good look at her meal. Amy looks at her, says she’s so sorry about what’s happened… she can only imagine even a flicker of what she’s been through, of what that must feel like… but she’s not going to die in this room with her. The Dragon screeches, snapping at her – Amy dives to the side, barely avoiding the jaws.

The Doctor’s voice comes over the loudspeaker, Rory in the background – He thinks he has the activation sequence figured out, but it’s going to happen fast, she’s got to get out of there. Amy says to start the procedure, she’s coming out now! Amy throws the egg into the air and runs toward the door. The Dragon turns to the egg, trying to catch it. The Doctor presses some keys on the keyboard, red light.
Not working. He goes to point his sonic screwdriver at it – no power. Amy runs around the Dragon’s leg and jumps over its tail as it swings at her. The Doctor tries another combination of keys. No dice.

The Dragon catches the egg and spins toward Amy, it rears up, jaws opening, fire welling up in its mouth. Rory ‘Fire? That’s not fair! I mean, it makes sense… but!’ The Doctor yells ‘of course!’ He hits a different set of keys then hits the same keys he was hitting. The computer says something in an alien language as the doors to the cell begin to close. Amy runs at them, diving through them just as fire spreads throughout the cell. The doors close, the fire winks out and the Dragon roars, thrashing, freezing.

It slowly curls into a fetal position, holding the egg close, coming to a stop with the egg nestled against its head. Amy stares at it for a long moment. Rory runs to her, they hug and watch the slumbering dragon.

Back topside, Jonathan lies on the kitchen table, the family standing around looking morose. The Doctor bursts in, alright, that’s all settled – batteries charged, good to go. He stops and asks why everyone’s so sad. They think Jonathan’s going to die. The Doctor smiles, reminds them he’s the Doctor. He fixes things… and nobody dies today.

He produces a complex piece of technology and runs it across Jonathan’s body, his wounds heal before their eyes. The family hugs their son as the Doctor, Amy and Rory turn to leave. Josie runs up and hugs them, hugs Amy. Amy finds herself fussing with the little girl’s hair then stops herself. William stares at the Doctor ‘You’re not really from the bank, are you?’ The Doctor smiles and says ‘I’m afraid not’.

Together the 3 of them leave the building, walking over to the TARDIS, climbing inside. What about the eggs? Amy asks, what will happen to them? “The eggs take hundreds of years to hatch”, he says… “when exposed to constant, extreme heat”. Until that happens, the world is safe.

The TARDIS disappears as the Ames family runs out of the building, watching as it
fades away to nothingness. Above them, rain starts to fall.

Fast forward 50 years – it’s a beautiful sunny day, the sinkhole is now a large lake and the land surrounding it is lush and green and fertile. Sliding deep
beneath the surface of the lake, the eggs wait, untouched, attached to the walls.

Sliding still up the tunnel to the Frozen Dragon, curled around its single egg. Closing in on its massive, fluttering eye as it dreams away in the deep.

End of Episode.

Aaaaand that's what I've got so far. Decidedly less dark than I feared it'd be, lots of action, lots of interesting little tidbits. Once I get some notes back from my writing group I'm going to do a final final pass... and, hopefully, start my vomit draft.

Good times!

Cheers all!
Brandon

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Final Outline Part 3

Edits, edits and more edits. Even as soon as I finish writing this bloody thing I get another idea for how I can better express something or how I can make an event or an action clearer. The general 'story' is done, figured out though... so that's a bonus.

Here's part 3 (of 4), folks!

They follow the trail of the TARDIS through the cavern, past walls that have faint and cracked ‘circuit board’ patterns imprinted into them. Downward they go, William taking the lead – warning them to be careful, it’s like a maze down here. Through several twists and turns and paths they go, eventually coming into a large chamber full of football-sized, iridescent-shelled eggs stuck to the floor, the walls, the ceiling. There’s a large patch of open space and a crowbar lying to the side. Amy turns to William, shocked. He says that his family was starving, there was nothing left to eat after the crops died. Desperate, he went down into the caves, hoping to find something to eat or sell… and he found this place. He looks around in awe – there’s a lot more eggs here now.

They continue to follow the trail to another large, open space – it looks like a Hub of sorts, tunnels running in all different directions. There, at the entrance of the largest tunnel, laying on its side and barely visible in faint light of the sonic screwdriver, is the TARDIS. The Doctor runs up, starts scanning it – laughs. It’s fine! He notices some bones, some alien skulls. Not good. He starts scanning the bones, ancient, Silurian. Something stirs behind the TARDIS, slithers in the darkness. The locals gasp as a massive claw slams down on top of the blue box; as a huge, iridescent, green-scaled, 3-eyed dragon pushes forward; its long, silvery teeth glinting in the pale blue light. It ROARS and stands on the TARDIS, spreading its leathery wings wide as the Doctor backpedals.

He raises the sonic screwdriver heroically, light burning brighter – impossibly bright. Nothing happens. He fiddles with the settings, tries again… still the dragon is unaffected. It stares at him, drool running down the tentacles of its powerful jaws. ‘RUN!’, the Doctor yells as the dragon lunges. He dodges the attack and sprints for the closest tunnel as Amy and Rory and William and Mary run down different tunnels. The dragon continues to chase the Doctor, roaring in frustration.

As he runs through the tunnel, the Doctor starts to notice odd little bits of wiring and metallic panels peeking out from the rock. He comes to a fork in the cave system and turns toward a tunnel that has faint, flickering green lights emanating from it. As he runs down this tunnel, the dragon turns and leaves him be.

The Doctor reaches the end of the tunnel to see that it opens into a large, metallic room. He scans the room, discovers that it’s alien technology, some sort of cell – a cryogenic prison. That’s where the dragon was and how it escaped: it’s very, very old and whatever's keeping this place running, it's almost entirely out of power.

William and Mary wander through the tunnels, William’s hand following the wall, the other holding Mary’s hand. Mary calls out for Josephine, half-calls for Jonathan. They move slowly, afraid.

Amy and Rory wander in the dark, careful, nervous. Amy calls out for Josie in a soft voice then stops. What if this WAS Melody, she asks. What if those alien bastards put their daughter through something like this – running through the darkness, alone, scared? “The Silence took our baby, Rory… and we’re never going to get her back”. She shivers in the dark. Rory holds her. Says that they know she lives, know that she grows strong and smart. That’s the funny thing about time-travel, really. You get to know. Even if you can’t be there, even if you miss all the darkness, the sad bits, the chance to kiss the scraped knees, to hold them close… you know. You know she survives… and that’s something. That’s more than most get.

There’s movement in the distance, footsteps. Little footsteps. Amy calls out for Josie. The little girl peeks around the corner and then runs toward Amy, hugging her full on, shivering. She says, in a whisper, that she found Jonathan.

The Doctor has an ‘aha’ moment as he discovers that the ‘dragon’ is actually the last surviving Queen of a small, space-faring race called the Ordovites. This one, this last Ordovite, has been in stasis for millions of years – the Silurian machines still running tests and collecting data. Over time this place was forgotten and now the batteries have started to wear out -- which allowed her to wake up: leaving her alone, scared and very, very pissed off.

William and Mary move down their tunnel, they stop at the sound of rocks dropping, clacking together. They stare into the gloom, something moves. Mary smiles, Josephine! She starts to run toward the figure on the ground.

Josie leads Amy and Rory down a series of tunnels to a faint, amber-glowing computer terminal. It’s very old and ornate -- whomever created this terminal obviously revered the tech with an almost religious fervor. The amber glow is faint, the power waning. Through some sort of screen they see the Doctor in a large room, frantically scanning computers. They try to figure out some way to get the tech to work so they can contact him – Amy and Rory start hitting keys – the lights flash (causing the Doctor to spin in confusion), finally finding an audio switch. They call out to the Doctor – Doctor says he’s in some sort of cryogenic cell – this is where the creature was held. Amy’s about to respond to the Doctor when Josie points them to another, lower screen where a young man – barely more than 15 – lies, moving but just barely. Slowly two figures come into view, Josie gasps as her Mom runs into the frame, she wraps her arms around the downed boy and cries. Somewhere, though there’s no audio on the feed, the echo of her cries reaches through the caves. Josie wants to run to them. She calls ‘Momma’, turns the corner and screeches.

Friday is the finale!

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 09, 2012

Final Outline Part 2

Hey all!

More coming up here - picking up where we left off. The official Outline is sitting at around 4 and a half-ish pages right now (and, apparently, no it's not 'final' as I've already been tinkering with it again... *sigh*).

Anyways, here's where we are for Part 2:

The Doctor goes into full-on 'Doctor' mode – Not here to take the farm. He’s the DOCTOR. Here to help... with the farm. Amy notices the dinner table and every plate is overflowing with scrambled eggs. Josie asks Amy if they can help to find her brother, Jonathan. Mary takes Josie by the hand, starts to pull her away, William is abrupt: No. Jonathan will be back soon. Rory looks down and sees several bits of iridescent shells. William, unhappy with how things are going, begins to usher them out, they’re not welcome. Josie breaks away from her mother, yelling that he is too lost and if they don’t want to find him, she will. Mary tries to calm her child, we can see that she’s been crying. The Doctor kneels to Josie, says he’s the Doctor, that he fixes things. They’re going to find her brother together. William stops him. No, you can’t. Josie retorts that he’s just afraid of the monster. Doctor replies with all seriousness “Monsters? Well, monsters are my specialty.”

As if on cue, the ground beneath them begins to rumble and shake, that same muffled roar can be heard – plates and the few things not already fallen to the floor (from the earlier tremor) fall to the ground. Mary whispers, ‘it’s getting louder’. The rumbling continues to worsen, the whole house starts to sway. The Doctor yells for everyone to get outside – they flee the house, out in to the dusty noonday light. They hear a loud rumble and then a CRACK as a large fissure opens and spreads out into the cornfield; then another and another. The ground heaves and then collapses into a giant sinkhole – the Doctor, Amy and Rory watch in horror as the TARDIS falls with it. A massive plume of dust flies up into the sky. Mary takes William’s hand, the horror on their faces plain to see – the last vestiges of hope for their son flicker out.

Together the Doctor, Amy and Rory all run to the edge of the sinkhole, trying to see through the haze… no good. Rory says they need some rope, they can climb down. The Doctor sneakily pulls out his sonic screwdriver, scans the hole then balks at the reading. He recovers quickly and shakes his head to the others. He turns to William and asks ‘how do we get down there?”. Josie takes off running ‘this way, Doctor!’ ‘Josie!’ Amy calls out, seeming just as worried as William and Mary as they give chase, their faces white as sheets.

At a rocky outcropping she steps down a perilous natural set of stairs – she grabs a lantern off a wall and disappears into the dark mouth of the cavern. A few moments later everyone except Mary follows Josie in. Mary stands at the mouth of the cave, watching, barely holding herself together. Standing there alone, she takes a deep gulp and then forces herself onward, into the cave after them.

Inside the tunnel, the light from the entrance fades. He pulls out his Sonic Screwdriver and uses it as a torch, the surrounding area is bathed in a blue light. Mary and William stare at it in awe – The Doctor explains that it’s the latest thing from… Paris: ‘The flameless torch’. Doctor remarks that this cave, this tunnel, it’s not natural. It’s very old, very damaged… but not natural. He points to the parts where the wall is smooth – some sort of laser drill. He seems in awe of it. Amy marches onward, past the Doctor, past William (who’s more than a touch frightened) she calls out for Josie. Rory pulls up beside her, asks her what’s wrong. She asks him what he thinks is wrong. He nods, understanding. He mentions that this won’t bring Melody back. She gives him a dirty look and pushes on past him, calling out ‘Josie!’.

Amy and the others enter into a large open cavern, the sinkhole. Above them daylight shines through. The Doctor pulls out his sonic screwdriver and begins scanning the area, he’s lead to a long sliding track in the dust – he says that this is where the TARDIS landed… but it was dragged away. He stops to notice the huge claw-marks in the underside of the fallen rock “…by something massive.”

And that's where things go for today. More to come!

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, January 06, 2012

Final Outline Part 1

Okay, so this ended up being much, much longer than I thought it'd be so I'm going to break it up into pieces.

Without further ado, here's what I've managed to come up with for 'The Dragons Of Iowa'.

Outline:

Through the rough-hewn catacombs he sprints, young Jonathan Ames; a loaded, bulky gunny sack slung over his shoulder; contents clicking and clacking together as he runs for his life. Behind him something roars, the walls shaking with its rage. Jonathan looks over his shoulder, terrified and abandons the sack. Turning corners at random, running blind from fear, he slams face first into a dead end and stumbles backward. From the ground looking up a shadow falls across the cavern and Jonathan screams.

The TARDIS appears in the dusty remnants of a corn field. The Doctor bursts out of the doors, excited, expounding about shimmering seas of living crystal, the best massages in the known galaxy. Wait. Wrong planet. Wrong time. Wrong – “What’s that?” The Doctor sees a glimmering object on the horizon and moves in to investigate. Can’t hurt. Just take a moment. Rory and Amy follow along, wondering out loud about what strange planet they could be on this time. The Doctor reveals that this is Earth, America, circa 1936. Amy wonders what could’ve caused all this damage – some sort of weapon?

The Doctor comes to a sudden stop, the gleaming metal now in plain view – an old, metal water-tower half-decorated with the remnants of iridescent shell pieces. A little girl dressed in rags – Josephine (Josie) Ames – no more than 8, stands at the top of a walkway with an empty potato sack slung over her shoulder. She puts a hand to her mouth and calls out to them, a warning. She points and they follow her gaze to the large rolling cloud of brown/black dust coming in fast. As Rory asks what that is, Amy grabs him and the Doctor and starts running, yelling ‘Sandstorm!’ Josie scurries down the ladder, running toward a dilapidated old house, disappearing inside.

The Doctor pulls them close to him, trying to stuff them under his jacket as the storm hits them full-on, a cacophony of wind and dust and sand blows around them – Rory tries to speak and ends up spitting out mouthfuls of sand. The ground beneath them starts to rumble and shake, inside the storm a muffled, angry ROAR can be heard. The ground-shakes start to sound like ‘pounding’. Through the dust a small hand reaches up and grabs Amy’s, pulling her away, leading her. Amy, Rory and the Doctor follow the little girl.

A rickety door bursts open and Josie, her face covered in rags, enters. She tosses off her mask and shakes the sand out of her hair. The Doctor, Amy and Rory enter then proceed to cough, shake, shimmy and pat off all their collected dust. Rory hacks out a rather large glob of wet sand. All said and done they look up to see the rest of the Ames family – clad in little more than rags themselves – staring at the well-dressed strangers in stunned silence from the dinner table.

Josie is over-joyed at the arrival of these strange visitors, she constantly feels their clothing and shoes. She takes Amy’s hand and remarks that her skin is so pretty. Amy laughs but seems genuinely touched by the little girl. The father stands and shakes their hands introduces himself as William Ames, his wife as Mary and his daughter, Josephine (“Josie!” She corrects). At the table there is one more place made but it’s empty. William says they don’t often get visitors, especially since the land dried up and the storms rolled in. The Doctor introduces himself and flashes his psychic paper, trying to look official. William looks them up and down then looks at the paper – then his eyes narrow with anger. He tells Mary to get him his gun; that these fancy-dressed, fine speaking people are from the Bank and they’re here to take his farm.

End of Part One - more to come!

Cheers all!

Brandon

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Almost There

The outline's coming along well now - I think we can almost slot this thing into the 'win' column.

For now I'm mostly working on making this thing as interesting as possible, filling out spots where its a bit light, trimming things that are a bit long.

One change off the top is the idea of the locals having a missing child of their own - one that went down into the catacombs and hasn't returned. I'm hoping this'll give me the theme I'm looking for - a theme that's strongly starting to resemble 'coping with the loss of a child'.

Rather than this be an 'Amy and Rory are mad at each other' episode (like it seemed like it was becoming), I'm hoping that this event -- and seeing how the locals deal with it -- will bring them to the realization that they're not coping with it as well as they'd hoped; that, though Rory's better at rationalizing the loss of their child, they've never dealt with it; let alone had a serious conversation about it.

One of the things I worry about with this approach is that I end up with them having the same 'made for TV' argument that I've seen over and over; that, having never been through this myself, I might not have anything 'new' or 'original' to bring to it. And yet, as a new father, even the thought of going through an event like that fills my veins with ice-water.

The questions I need to answer for myself, as I get into forming scenes and writing dialogue is "What do they need to say about this traumatic event in their lives that they've just been unable to say?"... and "Why is it important that they say it now?".

Of course, that the dragon is helplessly watching her children be taken from her over and over while being trapped in an underground prison... I find myself concerned that I might be venturing into 'too dark' territory... I'm not sure. Certainly, these elements, on their own, suggest it might be too much -- but Doctor Who is a show that regularly mixes Horror and Drama into its frothy Sci-Fi mix.

My end rule, as it stands right now, pretty much goes like this:

Does the story work? Does it make for good TV?

So far I still think that these are both 'Yes'-es (and that, yes, I think about things entirely too much -- which is actually a sign of 'giving a shit'... so... yeah, maybe that's not entirely a bad thing. We over-think because we care. Right?)

Okay, that's enough of my neuroses for one night.

More to come, folks!
Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 02, 2012

Off To A Good Start

Good News: The outline's almost complete!  I haven't exactly been able to slave over it this past holiday season -- though I did clock some serious mileage on my pedometer chasing down those Boxing Day/New Year's Sales (seriously, Boxing WEEK now? Yeesh...).

Outline-wise I've been trying to figure out how to make my episode seem like a normal episode, how to make it feel like it could fit in with the current series.  It's taken me a bit of a while to figure out how to pull it off, but I think I'm onto something.  Oddly enough, one of the most common 'type' of openings for Doctor Who is the 'oh crap, somebody just got ganked!' opening.  It's a tried and tested way of getting an episode off and running and it's been in use for many, many years on the series.  I like to think of it as a sort of a pre-CSI CSI way of drawing the viewer in that, well, happens to work.  I'm not entirely sure how/if I can twist it, but it's something I'm running with for now and it appears to be working.

If all goes well I'll have a decent 'final' outline up for this Wednesday or Friday and then *fingers crossed* I can finally start writing the first draft.

We'll see.

Finally, here's a video of my son ringing in the new year with style.


Cheers!
Brandon