Posted by: steveonfilm | January 27, 2008

Trouble In Fantasy Land

I’m sitting here, thinking, and I just feel like I’ve lost that loving feeling? You know, that loving feeling? Now its gone…gone…gone, whoa oooh whoa oooh whoa.

Actually, I’m about ready to start the exercise for chapter nine and I’m just not feeling it. Something is wrong and I can’t put my finger on it. Something with this story isn’t clicking with me. I decided I’m going to do some free association writing here to try and work through this issue. I feel like I’ve got a story here, I’ve got a good conflict, and I’m not going to give up on it. I just need to find out what’s missing…

Since this is a free association writing exercise, please pardon and typing, spelling, or grammatical errors that persist:

Act 1 feels good, at least through plot point one. Act 3 feels good. But Act 2 is just a mess. I feel like I’ve written myself into a corner with the background I came up with for Tom. Some of it feels right, but the rest feels just contrived, like I wrote it just because I felt like it was something needed to go there. I have the two major tragedies in his life, the death of his parents and his grandmother. I have his isolation. But the rest of Tom just feels like…well shit, it feels bad. It’s not right.

I think I need to loosen him up a bit. With the background I gave him I think he’s just too weird. I want him to be socially awkward but not socially inept. He gets intimidated easily, but he’s not scared of people. He’s distant, but not totally withdrawn.

To me, Tom feels like he’s the guy you see in the grocery store spending way to much time examining the cucumbers. Its like he’s obsessed with finding the perfect one. He spends so much time there, examining every single one, looking for each little flaw he can find. It’s almost like he’s telling himself that if everything isn’t exactly perfect on the cucumber he buys the salad he’s going to make will be ruined.

Maybe that’s what Tom’s missing. That driving force. That deep emotional substance that’s preventing me from really feeling like I know this character. I don’t have that obsession, but I can imagine what it’s like for people. The life had built for himself, the security it provided, came crashing down. The only way he could cope was to develop a new sense of security, trying to eliminate any uncertanties around him, searching for that perfect life, that perfect level of existance that would shield him from any other pain.

He’s scared. He’s scared that he’s going to lose someone else. And because of that fear he prevents himself from getting close to anyones else. His obsession with perfection is really just a manifestation of his obsession with security.

But what about John? Why would John factor into his life? Fortunatly, because of who John is I have the freedom to make this whatever I want. The truth is, John factors into Tom’s life like he does because John is the perfect representation of what a friend should be to Tom. He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t ever get anything wrong. He’s never failed at anything he’s done. To Tom, John is perfection personified. For Tom, John provides that security Tom needs…

…because the reality is that Tom wants to be with people. He’s just scared that they’ll be a let down, they’ll effect his obsession with security. Tom, as with all people, needs human contact. He needs to be around others. John, and to a lesser extent Mitch and Tammy, provide Tom with that contact.

And here is the kicker…when they tell Tom that they’re not real, that life he’d been so obsessed with comes crashing down around him. The security he’d built up, the perfection he’d worked so hard to achieve was gone, in an instant. From this point on, the hole that John and company had filled opened back up in Tom. That human contact he thought he’d had was gone.

This freaks Tom out. His walls now had a big hole in them. He knows he has to patch them up again. He knows that he needs to rebuild those walls. But John doesn’t want Tom to just build up walls. He wants Tom to tear down what’s left. To remove the walls from his life in the first place. If anything, John blames himself for how bad things had gotten. John thought he’d be helping by coming back, but it just made things worse. The security he thought he’d be provided just gave Tom an excuse to stop associating with people even more.

It’s effected everything about him. His diet. His comic. Even his hygiene. Tom went from having his comic syndicated in six newspapers to just being in three. It’s the same story over and over. No risks. No new material. Nothing. If it wasn’t for his trust funds he’s be broke.

But this brings me back to the end of act one. I don’t like that Tom wanted to kill himself. That doesn’t make sense. Sleeping pills? Come on. Tom isn’t suicidal. He’s just sad…depressed maybe. How can I get around this, how can I accomplish the same thing. One option is for John to let Tom know he’s not real at the end of act one but I don’t like that. It’s too soon. It won’t have the impact it needs to. I need to let that friendship develop some more.

So how to end act one. What can they do. I like the intervention angle that I was going for. John, Tammy, and Mitch sort of just show up all of the sudden. But what drives that. What breaks the camel’s back. That’s what I’m not feeling here.

Something has to cause that event to happen. That’s why I was using the suicide thing. That was the event that caused it. But that doesn’t fit. That’s not Tom. Tom wouldn’t do that. So what else, what else can I use?

I think I’ve hit my limit to what this free writing is going to do. I’ve been able to identify why I’m stuck and where I’m stuck. I need to change the event at the end of act one. I need to change up plot point one. That’s what’s sticking, that’s what’s keeping me from moving forward.

I’m going to zone out for a bit and do something else while chewing on this in the back of my head. It’ll come to me, it always does. Maybe playing some Call of Duty 4 will help.

Well, until then…

Enjoy.
-Steve

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