Nine of Yesterday’s Scenes Get Into the Purple Box of Samoas

Sticking with my two day trend I’m going to put yesterday’s list of scenes on a all Girl Scout cookie diet to fatten them up . At least some of them.

  1. Malachi breaking out of jail – Really, the only dramatic way to get out of prison when you need out is to escape. I’ll need to have him use magic and I’ll need to make this hard enough to be enjoyable but not so hard that it takes over the story. It seems too cliche to couple his encarseration with some self-imposed prison. Maybe its just a matter of the magical hurdle being high enough and the thought of unneccessarily being a fugitive that keeps him patient. Or maybe he’s in prison because he’s located a magic practicioner there he wants to learn from.
  2. Malachi learning his daughter is ill – The classic prison visit scene or a letter or a magical missive delivered mysteriously? I’ve got several good options here and should consider the plot implications of each before chosing. Depends on how I want the middle to play out: buddy cop team up with daughter or lone wolf. Or how I may want to gouge Malachi with betrayal. Or how badly.
  3. Malachi put into jail – I’m leaning toward him already imprisoned at the start to avoid the cliche entry thing and to avoid dead words. Flashbacks could cover any required backstory though I don’t imagine there needs to be that much. He starts in prison; ’nuff said.
  4. Daughter becoming ill|poisoned|injured – How and why this happens will deeply characterize the story I think. I’m not prepared to consider the ways and reason right now, but I don’t think this choice is trivial.
  5. Daughter and Malachi face to face in visiting room. – If I don’t put her in front of the reader I’m going to have a harder time eliciting sympathy for her cause. I don’t have to put her literally in the front. She could be heavily in Malachi’s musings or correspondance. I like the idea of her being literally in front though and maybe even coerced to be there. Brought or sent along by threat to convince her father to break out. Or to just plain taunt him. Mor practically to simply convey the message that she’s ill and needs help. Some how Malachi’s got to learn that.
  6. The clockwork spider appearing to Malachi in his cell – Left over from the original exercise. Could be a mundane appearance at this point. Something cameo in nature or could be instrumental in some cases: unlocking cuffs, surveillance, delivering keys. Maybe the spider ends up as a familiar. I can picture it trying to drag a heavier than itself gun for some reason.
  7. Malachi pleading with warden/lawyer – It seems reasonable that Malachi might try to get out of jail on some sort of pass. Maybe his crime is minor enough for such things, but I’m pretty sure the reality of such things is that they don’t let you out once you’re in. But maybe his parole is coming up soon and he tries to hasten its arrival using her illness as leverage. Written well this could amp the tension but I’m not sure I’ve got the interest or ability to do it that well. Looks research heavy.
  8. Malachi battling dragon – Duh. Need to consider the best course for this: braun or brain? Braun with a little brain has a strong cinematic smell to it.
  9. Mentor being abducted – Backstory? Maybe this is a late story complication. I got out of jail, found the dragon, and now I have to rescue my mentor? WTF? Probably not. Like the imprisonment this needs to ride the line of tense but not motivating enough to escape prison. Maybe Malachi believes his mentor relatively safe but gets increasingly worrisome information that compounds when he learns of his daughter’s need.
  10. Malachi gathering help to battle dragon – FATTEN
  11. Finding out if dragon is metaphor or literal-ish – FATTEN
  12. Daughter having complications – FATTEN
  13. Dragon directly threatening daughter – FATTEN
  14. Mentor divulging secret to unraveling magic – FATTEN
  15. Escaped Malachi hounded by police – FATTEN
  16. Malachi committing crime – FATTEN
  17. Malachi being sentenced – FATTEN
  18. Malachi chatting with lawyer – FATTEN
  19. Mentor teaching Malachi – FATTEN
  20. Dragon attacking police chasing Malachi – FATTEN
  21. Malachi convincing police to help him battle dragon – FATTEN
  22. Dragon beginning the process to unravel magic – FATTEN
  23. Malachi discovering that unraveling magic will do more that threaten just his daughters life – FATTEN
  24. Discovering why/how magic supports his daughters continued life – FATTEN
  25. Dragon capturing mentor – FATTEN
  26. Mentor in captivity – FATTEN
  27. Malachi communicating with mentor somehow – FATTEN
  28. Prisonyard brawl to characterize Malachi – FATTEN

Felt like I got further than nine while i was thinking.  Oh well.  More later.

Twenty-eight Scenes

Without magic Malachi’s daughter will die. He must escape from a Texas prison and rescue his senile mentor from a dragon before that dragon extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic.

I think this needs more work along the lines of yesterday’s exercise, but I’ll table that for today’s different exercise. Not before saying that I’d still like to clean up all the character references via pronoun and I think it’s important I find a smooth way to do more than imply Malachi is a mage. I’m not even certain I’ve implied that here.

I can pretend that I have stated his mage-itity. And will. My next step is to get some scenes from the above. I’m tackling this like my one-minute drill: no time; no filter.

  1. Malachi breaking out of jail
  2. Malachi learning his daughter is ill
  3. Malachi put into jail
  4. Daughter becoming ill/poisoned/injured
  5. Daughter and Malachi face to face in visiting room.
  6. The clockwork spider appearing to Malachi in his cell
  7. Malachi pleading with warden/lawyer
  8. Malachi battling dragon
  9. Mentor being abducted
  10. Malachi gathering help to battle dragon
  11. Finding out if dragon is metaphor or literal-ish
  12. Daughter having complications
  13. Dragon directly threatening daughter
  14. Mentor divulging secret to unraveling magic
  15. Escaped Malachi hounded by police
  16. Malachi committing crime
  17. Malachi being sentenced
  18. Malachi chatting with lawyer
  19. Mentor teaching Malachi
  20. Dragon attacking police chasing Malachi
  21. Malachi convincing police to help him battle dragon
  22. Dragon beginning the process to unravel magic
  23. Malachi discovering that unraveling magic will do more that threaten just his daughters life
  24. Discovering why/how magic supports his daughters continued life
  25. Dragon capturing mentor
  26. Mentor in captivity
  27. Malachi communicating with mentor somehow
  28. Prisonyard brawl to characterize Malachi

I’ll not stretch that exercise too much further.  I think I had a couple repeats in there and a few that aren’t scenes as much as they are situations.

Part of my trouble is that I never meant for this to be a prison break situation and now it is.  I like that.  I’m just not certain how to write it up with much credibility.  I need to do research or find a plausible way to truncate the prison portion of the plot.

I’ve got time left on my so-called hour to flirt with number four.

  • Daughter becoming ill/poisoned/injured

At the start of yesterday this element wasn’t an element.  Now it’s crucial.  At that time I’d just considered her need for magic in the sense that she needs the existence of magic to be alive–like air.  While that gives the story a mysterious larger world quality her mana-like dependence on magic doesn’t lend much immediacy to the story.  However, I’d rather not have her injured and laid up in bed–at least not at first.  If I put her in a bed then I need to create a intermediary to inform Malachi and that kneecaps the potance of the relationship.  Maybe she has a magic injury he can sense.

A Logline for Malachi

Day 439

If I don’t write in the morning I don’t write all that day no matter how I might promise myself I will write. If I don’t write the next day after the missed day I don’t write the next day after that one. So here I am: making it right.

An ex-con and mage must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the old mage learns a secret to unravel magic and itself be freed from its human prison.

Let’s call that the first logline I’ve ever written. I’ve hacked out a couple in my head but never put them on a page. Let’s call this one a first pass at the final. I don’t like the excessive use of pronouns though I think I’ve got the antecedents worked out properly—or at least in order…

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage learns a secret to unravel magic and itself be freed from its human prison.

I realize I didn’t really fix the pronoun thing just now, but having a name lends an anchor to the phrasing that helps me. I don’t like that the dragon will just happen to ‘learn’ the secret. It is not clear that he will learn it from the mentor. Short of adding “beats a confession out of” I’m not sure how to get that across.

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel magic and itself be freed from its human prison.

That doesn’t help the pronoun game, but seems to put just enough touch on what part the mentor plays in the whole ‘secret’ thing. If I play on the dubious idea that dragons are always bad then I might do OK with something like this:

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel all magic.

Though that doesn’t have the life threatening immediacy I’m looking for in this logline—I don’t think the other versions did either, but at least they had a dragon obviously breaking loose. Maybe:

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic.

I suppose that’s a big deal if you’re a mage or a dragon but how do the rest of us—the readers—care? There is no magic already so if it’s lost we’re right where we were when we started reading. How to make the dragon a menacing threat to the reader?

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic and with it the world.

Ha ha.
Hmmmm?
No. Try again.

Malachi, an ex-con and mage, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic. Without magic Malachi’s daughter Karen will die.

Ok. Somewhat better, but I don’t like the back-loaded jeopardy or the huge plotline I just introduced on a whim. Maybe merely flipping it will do the trick?

Without magic Karen will die. Malachi, her ex-con and mage father, must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic.

That has more appeal than I expected it to have. It pulls focus off Malachi our hero. Though now I’m feeling like the reason for the dragon to unravel magic is lost. To be sure it was never there before either, but now I’m noticing. That might work as a question the logline reader would ask themselves, but I don’t know that I’ve put the hint in there to do just that.

Without magic Malachi’s daughter will die. He must rescue his senile mentor before the dragon that captured the older mage extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic.

The indicators that Malachi is a mage get muddled in that version. I could find no plausible way to indicate he’s an ex-con either. Maybe he’s not an ex.  Maybe he’s in prison?  He needs to escape prison and rescue his mentor from the dragon. Fuck. That’s better. And a shitload harder since I know jack about prison-hood.

Without magic Malachi’s daughter will die. He must escape from a Texas prison and rescue his senile mentor from a dragon before that dragon extracts the man’s secret to unravel and destroy all magic.

20100204 Update: Done a bit more reading recently and I’m maybe missing the mark a bit on my logline here. Without too much fanfare or any of the above overworking I’ll just drop this new–still in need of work–version on you:

A prison escapee must slay a dragon to save his daughter from death.

Clean-cut Mal

Malachi’s fresh cut hair tugged strange.  The back of his neck both itched from the flecks of shorn hair and burned from the rub of an electric razor.  He had to get a new shirt or find a bathroom to shake out the current one.  For now he crammed his arms into a too small white jacket and held his shoulders aloft in an attempt to shorten his arms.  That choreography reduced the gap between his wrists and the cuffs of the borrowed jacket but it made him like as if he had a stick up his ass.  He would just stand at the back of the photograph.