Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The thaw seems to have begun in earnest. It's already above 40 degrees, according to the thermometer on my patio. I can see patches of grass under and around the shrinking sheet of ice. I skipped ballet last night because there was still a stubborn ice patch right in front of my garage and a lot of standing water, and it was already below freezing at the time I would have left for class, so by the time I came home, things could have become slick. Today, though, I should be able to make it to choir and be home before it freezes up again. I have a couple of errands to run this afternoon, too. Wow, leaving the house. What a concept!

Now if I can just fight off this lurking cold/allergies that seems to be threatening to attack right before my Crazy Holiday Weekend (it shouldn't be a cold because I haven't been around people in a week). I have a choir rehearsal in the late morning/early afternoon, then my fan group's annual holiday meeting and auction. Sunday morning, my kids are singing in the early service (assuming they even remember the song at tonight's rehearsal), then I'm singing with the choir in the late service, and then that night is the Christmas concert. Meanwhile, there's the postponed cookie swap/sale, so I have to bake some cookies, and I need to do some baking for the meeting.

I'm going through all my screenwriting books as I work on this movie idea, and I think this will be a good exercise to help me in novel plotting, as well. With a screenplay, much of the work is done before you actually start writing because the structure is key. The dialogue can change even while shooting, but it's the flow of scenes that really matters, so there's a lot of work in arranging and rearranging the scenes and beats of the story before you start putting it in screenplay format with words. This is where things like notecards pinned to a board come along. I have a lot of the plot worked out, but now I need to really develop the characters in more detail. I have a sense of them and see them vividly in my head, but not yet in a way I can put into words to convey what's in my head, if that makes sense at all.

Several of the screenwriting gurus say you should run your story ideas by people to see if your concepts work. That goes against my nature because I'm more prone to hiding in my cave and producing something, then presenting it as a finished product. Also, at this stage of my career I need to avoid spoiling my own work. But since the odds of this ever hitting the screen are slim, and if it does, it likely will be altered significantly after it leaves my hands, here's the "logline" of the concept for my TV holiday movie idea (deep breath):

A woman torn between her promising music career and the security of her day job finds herself experiencing both possibilities when she lives the days leading up to Christmas twice. The working title is Twice Upon a Christmas.

There might be a better way of phrasing/explaining the situation, but the way it happens is that she lives a day where she lets music take priority, goes to bed, then wakes up and it's the same day, but she makes her day job career a priority. The next time she wakes up, it's the next day, but she's back in the reality where she made music a priority. She seems to be living one life and dreaming the other, but she isn't sure which is the dream and which is the reality -- and for a while, she's not sure which she wants to be the reality.

I started out planning to do a Sliding Doors kind of thing, since they seem to like paranormal twists and Groundhog Day has been done to death, and they like ripping off familiar plot structures. But then this weekend I watched one that already used the Sliding Doors thing, and there was some Television Without Pity discussion about how that worked to pick the reality she'd follow. In the original Sliding Doors, she died in one reality, so the timeline only continued with the other, but obviously you don't want to do that in a heartwarming Christmas movie, but they don't seem to have thought that through and figured out how it resolved. But I wanted it to be more about a choice than a twist of fate like whether or not someone caught a plane or train. And if it was about choice, then she'd need to be aware of both sides to know what she wanted. Then I remembered a TV series that was on a couple of years ago in which a cop seemed to be living a life in which his son died in an accident and his wife survived and dreaming a life in which his son survived and his wife died -- or was it the other way around? He was living both lives, but didn't know which one was real. The cases he was working on overlapped between lives, and sometimes he'd learn something in one life that he'd use to solve the case in the other life, but then he had a hard time explaining how he got the information. That was dark and tragic, but I thought it would be a fun premise for a "learning a valuable lesson" romantic comedy.

Tomorrow: More about the thinking behind the premise.

So, what do you think of the basic concept?

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