|Sharpies at the ready|
In order to do some more detailed planning, we met up to have a chat in a pub. Most of the discussion so far has been by email, or in the company of the rest of Birmingham Writers Group. We met in a Wetherspoons , one of the cheerful chain of pubs that tend to feature lots of tables, cheap drink and students. Our reasoning was that we could spread out, draw pictures and chat, without getting on people’s nerves.
We had a list of scenes we wanted to write, based on the last index card game. Some of the general themes that came out of the exercise were so strong that we knew they would feature throughout the story in some way.
Take Satan’s relative wealth. It has plenty of comic potential if he starts the novel with a large pot of cash but then blows it all. We can see him struggling, job hunting and all sorts of other fun things.
We decided to draw these different aspects of his life as curves across the three act structure. We added his love life, his mental well being (hands-up who wants to see Satan in therapy?), his love of humanity and his desire to return to hell.
They all form a crisis point where Act Two ends. Naturally we want everything to be going wrong at that point, as Iain has pointed out in a previous blog, so that Act Three can resolve some really big problems and be more satisfying.
After we’d drawn the curves, across a period of twelve months, we found that it was relatively easy to find the right place to put in the scenes that we wanted. Our master plan covered two metres of wallpaper by now and has given us an excellent tool for doing some more detailed plotting.
It seems we did get on someone’s nerves though. A little old lady came up to us, smiling. We’re so used to the interest that our project incites in the Writers Group that seeing her face, I thought she’d been caught up by the excitement of Mr Clovenhoof. Sadly, no. It seems we had spoiled her enjoyment by talking too loudly, and she asked us if we had no homes to go to. All of this was delivered with the unfaltering old lady smile of Aunt Bessie from the lazy person’s roast potatoes, which made it rather sinister. As all writers know, nothing is ever wasted. When the time comes to write Molly in our novel, who owns Satan’s nemesis, the miniature Yorkshire terrier, I know whose face we’ll be thinking of.