Over the next few weeks – I’m going to lay out the development process I most commonly follow – and how I try to make sure we are asking the right questions at the right moments and don’t get lost in detail too soon – or try to go back to re-engineering the big pieces too late!
START WITH CHARACTER AND DON’T PLOT TOO SOON!
The most common mistake I see people make is that they start to plot too quickly.
People become fascinated by an idea, or by a moment/event and start to try to plot around it.
This often feels like it goes fine – a story unfolds in their minds and they feel confident and “real” – after all – they are storytellers and a story is forming – what could be wrong with that?
What is wrong with it however is that the end result is almost always a story that happened to the character as opposed to a story driven by a character – events pass, some of them quite exciting in their own right – but the end result feels emotionally empty – and the problem is that you are now dealing with loads of moments you have fallen in love with and do not want to lose.
I always liken this moment to trying to rearrange a room that is already full of furniture – some of which you have nailed to the floor. This hobbles you creatively – and almost always leaves you sitting on the ground surrounded by pieces of narrative that refuse to fit together satisfyingly.
Did I say this already – don’t plot too soon – because until you know your character – you are just spinning up moments – you aren’t telling a story of a human being experiencing transformation – and that is a definition of a story I would be tempted to stand by.