Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Wrangling Three Octopi – And A Horse
Tackling a rewrite of an adaptation is not for whimps. Marla and I have both done a lot of rewriting in our time and I have also rewritten scripts for clients. It’s tough but somehow this one has proven to be much harder.
Part of that challenge has been the fact that we received feedback from a trusted consultant who recommended we dispose of the entire first act. That meant changing all the dramatic introductions that we’d worked so hard at, and since we were changing the location we had to start from the gate.
First step? Outline, of course. Which we did, until we had a solid plan for the new beginning. I was concerned that the new first act was going to come in short in terms of the page count. In a one hundred page script, the first act should be about 25 pages, the second act 50 pages and the third, 25. Those are rough estimates but you certainly want the act “breaks” to fall at about that page, give or take 2 or 3 pages.
So I transferred the outline into our screenwriting software and proceeded to flesh it out, BUT, since I knew Marla was going to be busy I decided to surprise her. Big mistake!
Did I mention that Marla and I are usually on the same wavelength? LOL We must have been that day, because she decided to surprise me! And did she ever!
I was barely halfway through my “fleshing” when I received a call from her. Apparently, Marla had had a fabulous idea for a new first act. It just jumped up and grabbed her unbidden and out of nowhere. That’s how inspiration works sometimes --and she couldn’t rest until she had it all written down. She nearly had to cancel her plans that day, but found the idea so strong it stayed with her all during the movie she went to see! Now that’s one very unforgettable idea!
And I loved it!
But then the octopi attacked. I should explain, that a rewrite is like tackling an octopus. I had already added a second octopus to the fray when I started fleshing out our outline and now Marla’s brainstorm was added to the frenzy. Three octopi, 24 tentacles, and suction cups galore.
A beastly sticky situation if ever there was such a beast.
It was a tough job, but I managed to assemble it into a semi-coherent mess. It’s in chronological order now, and that’s at least something we can work with! And we now have more conflict in the story, more hooks and intrigue.
No pain, no gain. Improvement has its ruts along the way. We’re getting there.
Now we “just” have to rewrite 30 pages in act 2. And change the mess into a masterpiece.
Oh, and the horse? Since we picked the actor we really want for the protagonist, and I saw him on a horse, I’ve been kind of obsessed with our protagonist riding a horse at some point in the story. Marla has been laughing at me for weeks, but her new intro…? Have I got her on my wavelength at last?