Prewriting Part 2: Main Concept

This article is really more a continuation (or perhaps a culmination) of several previous articles.  It will be long and ramble-y and possibly not very well thought out.  But I think it might help to see the creative process when it’s not so polished (even if I’ve been thinking about these ideas far longer than it appears here).  Point being, if you’re looking for concise insight or new tools, best walk away now.  If however you’d like to see some of the older tools in action, you’ve come to the right place.

Elevator Pitch

The first thing that needs to be laid down is the high concept.  What are we going to be writing about in these 30 days?  Well I have a pretty good idea of what I want, but not ALL of one.  So we’re going to use Debbie Chester’s version of the elevator pitch to help fill in the holes.

Her version is basically the same as the sentence version from the article, however the different pieces are broken up and labelled.  Like so:

Situation:

Protagonist:

Objective:

Opposition:

Climax:

Usually these five points are abbreviated into the acrostic “SPOOC” and for this early in the process, it’s valuable to think of the elements as separate to see what parts are working and what can be improved.

So the basic plot of my awful fanfic is the standard “dude gets dropped into fictional universe; tries to improve things.  The “why”s of this particular setup usually don’t matter–the web forum Spacebattles and its spinoff sites use a “Random Omnipotent Being” or “ROB” to justify such shenanigans more often than not.  However, I have an in.  As part of the larger Marvel Universe I have access to any number of things not seen in show canon, but not beyond the realms of possibility.  One of those things is interdimensional TV executive, Mojo, who’s particular wheelhouse of powers and shtick means I have a canon “random omnipotent being.”  And by golly I’m going to use him.

So my first model looked something like this:

S: When interdimensional TV exec Mojo kidnaps him for a revival of an old TV show

P: Boring self-insert turned teenaged mutant “Atlas”

O: [goes along with the plot of the show, helping where he can]

O: But WILL HE SUCCEED when… [Magneto does the same stuff he’s always doing]

C: [Up to and including that stupid flying island in the original climax]

Originally I didn’t have anything written in where the brackets are.  But putting things in this format helps show the gaps in your knowledge and there’s a rather large one for me. I had no objective for this character.  I had no one trying to stop him.  And as such there was no climax other than the main one from the show.  I thought about what I wanted to happen in the story based on the source material and realized nothing had changed from Atlas’ inclusion.

I committed the classic blunder of presuming that a new “cool” character would be enough change for the plot to grow organically around him.  So…what needs to change to make the protagonist more active in resolving conflicts?

Well let’s see… One of the things I intend to do is mess around with a particularly cringe-inducing episode in the show.  As a responsible fanfic author, it is my prerogative–nay, my responsibility–to fix this episode and make it not suck.  Perhaps that could be the objective–at least at some level–to smooth over the bits that make the story stupid and instead put in smarter resolutions.  Now true, I’d have to be careful that it doesn’t become a “protagonist is always right, everyone else is wrong,” sort of story, but if we use that as a springboard, we could have a very interesting battle of philosophies played out in the schoolyard…with superpowers.  Especially since he wouldn’t always agree with the good guys.

So..now we have:

S: When interdimensional TV exec Mojo kidnaps him for a revival of an old TV show

P: Boring self-insert turned teenaged mutant “Atlas”

O: Attempts to subvert the show’s plot in favor of peaceable conflict resolution

Well that’s definitely better than what I had.  True, it could very easily go off the rails and become a screed against violence.  But, given the source material it’s very unlikely that ANYONE is going to give that objective the time of day…and it doesn’t even really need a specific antagonist to generate the conflict (although there will be one).

So our final model looks like this:

S: When interdimensional TV exec Mojo kidnaps him for a revival of an old TV show

P: Boring self-insert turned teenaged mutant “Atlas”

O: Attempts to subvert the show’s plot in favor of peaceable conflict resolution

O: But WILL HE SUCCEED when everything from the kids at school, to the powers that be, to his own hormones

C: Really prefer beating the crap out of each other?

Yes that Climax is a little weak, but it leads to the “epic superhero fight” trope which is perfectly within genre (and awesome) so we’re keeping it.  From this point it’s just a matter of going over what happens in the show, figuring out how Altas’ goals throw a monkey wrench in that plot (or how the plot’s screw up his plans).  That all can be worked out later.  In the meantime we have something we can springboard off of.

And that went a little long, so we’ll stop it here…next time we actually use a RPG character sheet to make a character.

Until then, keep writing.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s