Finding The Right Direction Thanks To The Wrong One.
Yesterday I sat down to write more of the script for Issue 26, which would be Chapter One of our next storyline. The last time I sat down to work on this script I was on fire. I was pounding out pages like they were nothing, and the flow of the story came to me very easily. I never struggled with direction and everything was coming to me naturally. I was in that wonderful (and sometimes elusive) zone, and I was sure the next time I sat down to write more of Issue 26 it would come to me just as easily.
Yesterday, that was not the case.
All my momentum came to a dead stop. I found myself staring either at a blank screen or the unending blink of my cursor. When dialogue or direction came to me it was stunted and forced, and I struggled to get scenes flowing with the same swift current of earlier pages. I took the story in unexpected directions in an attempt to jolt myself out of this funk, making characters do nearly out-of-character things and relying on leaps of logic to make something work. After several hours of work, I had both written several pages and accomplished nothing. In the end, I scrapped everything and decided to try again tomorrow.
Well, I didn’t scrap everything. I took a look at what I had once I determined I was done trying to make progress. I looked back at where I had been and tried to find a clue to the “right” direction. It was a wise decision, because some slight revisions to earlier scenes gave me a clear path forward. I cut unnecessarily dramatic and complicated elements to focus on “keeping it simple.” I was putting the spotlight on too many characters in an effort to look clever, so I narrowed the spotlight to essential characters. As Frank Herbert said, “A beginning is a very delicate time.” When I’m setting up a new storyline I find it’s best to keep the narrative moving forward simply and clearly. There’s plenty of time to be complicated later.
My failed attempt at adding more to the script wasn’t a failure at all. I was able to salvage scenes and dialogue from the scrapped material. I spent so much time discovering what wouldn’t work that I found what would actually work for the story!
Mistakes always present opportunities to learn, if you’re willing to accept their lessons.