Monday, March 31, 2008

I Will Be Unleashed

Writing in Laundromats

This year the wife and I will finally purchase a washer and dryer. I'm not too sure why we haven't done this yet. It just hasn't been a priority. But our time has become very dear, and carving out that hour to run around the corner and do a few loads has become difficult.

I will say this for laundromats: They're good for writing. Waiting for clothes to wash and dry is like watching paint dry. Not a whole lot else to do. Plus, I have access to uncluttered horizontal space, perfect for laying out my plot cards:


Above you see my latest endeavor, Pin-Up Girls, in progress. Note the copious plot holes. These blank spots get filled with blank index cards which shall be filled in in time. At this stage in the process, I have the major story beats (or plot points, if you prefer) figured out. Spreading out the cards in this way is my way of determining the pacing of the play.

What gear do I need for plot carding at a laundromat? Take a look:


Clockwise, from top center: my stack of plot cards, a cup of coffee, a plastic index card case, ink pen, my discard pile, a list of my characters written on an index card, and my 'secret weapon.' Let's take a closer look at that last one:


My 'secret weapon.' Two cards, taped together: On the top card is the three-act paradigm as defined by Syd Field in Screenplay. On bottom is "the hero's character arc" as defined by Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. (I have since added a third card with the archetypes as given by Vogler.)

I'm not slavishly devoted to these models, but I do recognize their worth when plotting a play or screenplay. If I find myself stuck, not knowing where to go next, or what to put into one of those plot holes you saw in the first picture, I refer to my 'secret weapon.' At the very least, it points out the way to go. These models are very good maps. (And I understand that the map is not the territory.)