SHE WROTE: Making It Make Sense
Yeah, you'd think we'd have Agnes written by now, but writing it is not enough. It has to make sense. We have to go through and figure out what it MEANS. How the scenes relate to each other. If Shane is doing this in one scene and Agnes is doing this in the next scene, does the fact that those two scenes are next to each other create meaning? Are they parallel? And the scenes that follow those scenes, do they build on the ones that came before? How? Does the tension escalate? And what kind of tension? Do the characters get angrier? More frightened? More turned on? Do they learn more? Where's the turning point? What does it mean for each character? How is it different for each character? How is it the same; that is, how does it unite them?
And you don't know how to answer those questions until you have the thing written and you have something to analyze, at which point it's white board time.
Doing this helps me figure out where I've bobbled things. Take the first scene with Lisa Livia. Agnes hasn't seen her for awhile and she's delighted she's back, and they talk and Lisa Livia drops a bomb and Agnes is shocked and then Lisa Livia goes on a rant and Agnes watches and then the scene ends. And I knew that was wrong, but it wasn't until I diagrammed Act One out on white board that it was obvious that Agnes had to get more irritated in that scene, Agnes wasn't going to get angry or lose her temper, but she was going to get cranky. Plus there was a scene following that with LL's mother that just wouldn't fit no matter what I did until I realized it was the third beat of that LL scene. Once I could see it on the white board, I went back to the computer and it all fell into place in the writing.
I’d never start with the white board. You have to write the book first and see what you’ve got, let the Girls in the Basement (or the Boys in the Basement if you’re Bob) send up the good stuff. But the Girls are a mess at organization, you do have to take a hand at some point, and that’s when you haul out the white boards. Or if you’re Bob, the spread sheets. Whatever.
Back to work. And don’t expect a lot of blogging this weekend. We’re busy. It’s crunch time at HWSW. Deadline looms.