I have completed a draft of the “beat sheet” for the unnamed project I’m creating for Glass Cage Productions. It took the entire week I scheduled, and now I understand why so many of my other writing projects failed, or were mired in mediocrity. This was an arduous task. It surprised me because I thought I knew the story I wanted to write, but using John Truby’s Anatomy of Story technique, and fitting it into the Beat Sheet I sought, taught me a great deal more.
A bit of background: the story was borne of a conversation about story concepts. We wanted to do a comedy, and we wanted it to be either a mafia story or a cop story. I proposed a number of premises to Glass Cage, and together we settled on “unnamed project.” I then went about the business of refining the premise, inventing characters, and dreaming up potential story lines. I’m a big fan of Noah Lukeman‘s discussions about creating story, so I pursued character studies, allowed those to change the story, and then I tweaked and changed all the elements until I got to what seemed a good approach.
I put the project on hiatus for several months while I finished a romantic comedy. During that time, I had unnamed project on my mind, and the character’s voices spoke to me at various times. This itself is another technique–allowing a story to grow on its own in the recesses of your mind. I started the story a number of times, but it fell flat and I abandoned the efforts quickly. Also during this time, I was learning about the Beat Sheet from Nail your Novel, and Anatomy of Story, and worked with Steve Kaplan. (This is turning into another whorish post, but all these people are a great influence!)
At last, I began to focus my attention on “unnamed project.” The entire Anatomy of Story work has taken almost a month, with this last week the most demanding, because “Scene Weaving” calls into question all the work you’ve done previously, and you may have to adjust your ideas. It’s frustrating and humbling. But now that I’ve hammered unnamed project into a cohesive outline, I’m surprised at the result and anxious to get started with the first draft.
But first, I must revise my romantic comedy for a few contests.