And how did writer's group go, you ask?
Actually, it was productive, and a lot of fun. It always helps recharge my creative batteries to talk shop with my peers. I enjoy discussing my work, and other people's work, with people who have useful insights and sharp analytical capabilities.
And Nicole made spaghetti. I do love spaghetti.
But yes, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, it was my turn up at bat. Or my turn to be hit with the bat, that might be more apt.
It's not surprising that there was -- how to put it? -- a lot to say about my submission. The outline for the New Screenplay, which is the project that was up for discussion, is kind of an odd beast.
It's probably the "youngest" work that the group has yet reviewed. Of the five participants, I'm the only one who didn't have a longform project that I wanted to bring to the table already underway, and created something new specifically for the first meeting. So it's very much in the early stages, with all the plot holes and handwaving and stupid ideas I would normally have edited out long before showing it to anybody else still flapping in the breeze.
Also, I'm doing something that I normally strongly encourage people to avoid at all costs: I'm flouting the genre. Without going into too much detail at this early stage, I can say that it's a romantic comedy that relies on the audience's expectations, based on familiarity with the genre, to subvert those expectations.
That means that part of the point of the story artistically, for me, is that it not pay off in the usual and expected way, while still paying off in a different way that is powerful, satisfying, emotionally honest.
I know -- an "emotionally honest" romantic comedy. I'm already treading on dangerous ground.
This inner tension between the genre and the actual thrust of the narrative may be why I had the slightly bruising experience Thursday night of hearing one of my smart colleagues say, "Your story still has no Third Act, dude."
And replying, "Actually, I think it does have a clear Third Act."
And having the other three people in the room, all of whom are also very smart, say, "Um, no Stephen, it really doesn't."
My subversive, slightly perverse and rampagingly un-commercial intentions aside, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement. It's obvious, first of all, that the act turns in the outline, the dramatic reversals and changes that mark the phases of the story, are not strong enough. A lot of the other feedback I got was just as solid, and just as indicative of work that I need to do in other areas.
It was challenging, but I loved it. It gave me so much to go on! I'm excited. And fired up. And not sure how to proceed.
I have, first of all, another project on the go -- the New Comics Project, which is only a quarter written. It's important to me, and it's going to move forward much, much faster than a movie script ever could. If the Genius Artist and I do it as a webcomic, as we've discussed, there's no reason we couldn't start serializing it online just after the New Year. And it's a really fun project to write. So that's a priority.
More importantly -- because it's not like I couldn't alternate writing projects from day to day -- I need to figure out how I'm comfortable moving forward with the New Screenplay. Thursday's comments showed that, yes, there are definitely some very important gaps in the outline.
So how much work do I put into fixing the outline? Do I polish and polish what is essentially a twelve-page synopsis of the story? Of course it has some gaps -- if all the gaps were filled in, it wouldn't be an outline! And would overworking the outline suck all the creative joy out of the project for me? Should I just start writing the screenplay? But am I ready to start the screenplay?
So, yeah, great feedback, leaving me with a lot to consider. Further thoughts will be posted here as my agonizing unfolds.
(Oh, on the subject of feedback? If anyone wants to let me know that you are still reading and I'm not just talking to myself here, that would be cool too.)