Monday, August 6, 2007

Assignments Week Eleven - The Darkest Moment

Forgive my tardy post. I kept thinking today was Sunday, since it's a holiday in B.C. today. It's B.C. Day as a matter of fact. I asked my husband what one does to celebrate BC Day and he said to enjoy everything BC has to offer. Which is a lot. We live in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world if you ask me. Take a look!

Well, here we are at Week Eleven and if you've been sticking to your commitment, you should be getting close to the end. Again, if you're not, keep going until you get there. This is called Start to Finish, not Start to 3/4 of the Way Through.

Next Week (week twelve), I will give you your final writing assignment for this particular round. The following week I will focus on what to do next, which involves celebrating, organizing your typed up writing exercises, reviewing, and editing.

I will continue to give writing tips and exercises at the beginning of each week and continue to discuss whatever else pops into mind while I'm writing. It won't be organized into a lengthy "course" like Start to Finish. It will be more like a drop in. So... drop on in!

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Before you reach the end of your story, your protagonist experiences her darkest moment. The Bleak Moment, or the SPLAT as Stewart Stern so appropriately calls it, is the moment when the protagonist reaches her greatest fear, obstacle, or threat and pushes on through to the climax, beyond which lie redemption and/or reunification.

It is also the point at which the external goal and internal need collide. In Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade Jones' goal is to get the Holy Grail. At the climax, he is touching the grail with his finger, but risking certain death. His interior need is to let go of his obsession, which mirrors his need to let go of the resentment he feels for his father, or he'll certainly die. He listens to his father for the first time in the story and does let go of the grail, losing it forever... but ensuring another sequel, due to be released in 2008.

I'll talk more about Bleak and Splat over the week, because I'd like to address this further. Briefly I would like to say, keep these three things in mind:

-Make your hero actively participate in her SPLAT. No Deus Ex Machina.
-Make her work for it. Run head-on into that drama!
-Make sure it IS the actual Splat, and that the climax didn't in fact take place 10 pages previously.

Here are your assignments for the week:

1) Once again, keep typing up your hand-written exercises. We're almost done and they will be very useful in the rewrite. I promise! 10-15 minutes.

2) Warm-ups. The theme this week is SPLAT. Before you write your 10-12 pages, complete one exercise from group I and group II.

In WIND UP format (short sentence listing until you connect with an idea an do a spontaneous rif on it), pick one of the following and write for 5-7 minutes:

My protagonist's splat (looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes) like...

My protagonist's greatest fear (looks, feels, smells, sounds, tastes) like...

Using the CHAINING technique, write for 5-7 minutes on one of the following:

My protagonist reaches her greatest obstacle when...
When my protagonist's interior need intersects her exterior goal, she must...
At the end of my story my protagonist realizes...
At the end of my story, my protagonist is redeemed because...

3) Write for 20 minutes / break / write again. Or 10-12 pages, whichever comes first.

I'd like to give many props to Stewart Stern for his marvelous insight into Going Through Splat. If you ever have a chance to see the moving biopic about his life, do so! It did the festival circuit a few years ago and may be available on DVD. It's the story of a very successful Hollywood screenwriter with the sensitive soul of a poet, who had to leave the industry in order to avoid being devoured by it. He was a source of inspiration to me when I attended his screenwriting courses at University of Washington.

Have a super week!


Vicki said...

I'm not quite to the splat moment in my current wip progress but this will help so much once I'm there.

Most everyone here knows that I write novels rather than screenplays. The amazing thing I've learned from your blog is how much information I can use in my writing.

Love it!!!

OpenChannel said...

That's great, Vicki!

And after Start to Finish is over, I'm still going to post a weekly writing exercise every Monday morning. It will just be something to think about or something to jump start your writing day.