Slowly but surely, momentum is creeping back into this project. I think the break has been good, even though I almost had a freakout and wrote a huge angry post last night about how much I’d let things stagnate and how I needed to pick up momentum just for its own sake. So that was probably helpful too, just to get a bit of juice back in the engine.
I said a while ago that I don’t think I tell very complex stories; with Tallulah I’ve told a simple story in a complex way, or perhaps complicated is the better word, because it is, after all, only at the first draft stage of development.
Taking this idea of simplicity at the core of the story and running with it, I made a quick list of all the characters in the draft and their relationship to Tallulah. I came to three conclusions by the end of it:
- The characters are what give the story its complexity; the premise, the plot, is extremely basic. Therefore, the characters are what is making this story complicated, and are the ‘problem area’ that I need to look at the most.
- My initial mentality when coming up with ideas of ‘what should happen’ in the first draft ended up, when I wrote them all out just now, channeling that mentality, making Tallulah’s story incredibly reactive.
- Especially after I finished the draft (and went crazy for a couple of days casting actors in all the roles), I fell in love with the idea of Tallulah driving the story forward herself, and that’s changed how I think about this story entirely.
So, naturally, I then made a list of all of the ways in which I now think of this story, and the results were immensely clarifying – I don’t need half the cast.
Half the cast. Half of the characters in this story are pointless.
Well, they’re pointless in terms of how much emphasis they warrant in the pursuit of telling Tallulah’s story. Unless I want to change things quite drastically.
And maybe I do, because this first draft, while it has a lot of stuff that I really like, does need a lot of revision to be turned into a compelling story. I can think of some ways in which it could work – just ideas, not full-blown plots, but enough to warrant considering. So in a sense, this second draft is looking like it’s going to be where I ‘really’ start telling this story.
Which is something I hadn’t considered before, but it makes sense now that I think about it. It doesn’t really change what I have to do, just my sense of how important it is.
And now I’ve basically written that ‘what I want to happen’ synopsis with all the holes in it, without even meaning to. So progress is being made, and that feels good.
It also finally feels like I’m finding a direction to go in, where I was just running into a brick all over and over for the past two weeks – not momentum just for its own sake, but for the sake of taking advantage of this opportunity that is slowly starting to take form. I’m starting to get a sense of what my next step should be.
That’s very good. It is renewing my hope for this project actually working out, that I’ll be able to do it while studying, etc. And I’ve also got a sense of just how much this story has changed from its conception to this point, and how much I’ve changed in terms of where my focus is and especially my relationship with Tallulah as a character, where I’m now at the point where I want to see her driving things forward, rather than just being interested in what I can do to the story. It’s become a joint partnership, and I like it.