Posted by: steveonfilm | January 24, 2010

Finding the Real Story

I’ve managed to complete the main beats for Act Two A, Act Two B, and Act Three. From a technical perspective, this is a complete story. From a personal perspective, I can still sense something is missing, something that’s there in front of me, I just can’t see it yet.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Act Two A

1. Victoria getting ready for the date.
2. Doug picks Victoria up for the date.
3. Victoria and Doug at the Coffee House.
4. Doug drops Victoria off. Doug goes in for the kiss, but it doesn’t happen.
5. Doug calls home from the library. But things are too busy there for his mom, or dad to really have time to talk to him.
6. Doug running with the guys. Asks Peterman if he knows if Stan is fielding anyone at the Kentucky Relays. Just the sprinters.
7. Doug talks to Stan about wanting to run the steeple chase at the Kentucky Relays.
8. Doug on a second “date” with Victoria. He impresses her with his insight into “The Group.” Sort of opened his eyes. “You know, mister track star, a girl like me thinks she might just be able to handle a fella like you.”
9. Doug on the bus reading “The Group” by Mary McCarthy. Danny, Wade, and Lance ask him why he’s running the steeple again.
10. The team arrives at the hotel for the Kentucky Relays. Walk past the Bowling Green team in the lobby. Stan points out Dave Wottle and Sid Sink. He finds Father Stevens and company waiting for him in the lobby.
11. Father Stevens and Doug on a walk, Stevens with a cup of coffee. Stevens and some of the other ND teachers came down to watch him run, including Father Murphy. He has a rough cough the whole time.
12. Doug getting set for the race. It’s cold and harsh out. Father Stevens tells Doug about the slow times.
13. Doug wins the 3000M hurdle against Dave Wottle and Sid Sink.
14. Doug and Stan. Stan wants him to get serious about the steeple. Doug is cautious. Still wants to run the 5K and 10K too. Stan brings up the Olympics.

Act Two B

1. Doug gets a letter from Father Stevens. Tells him to keep on with the steeple. Doug starts to write him back.
2. Doug training at the track. Stan working with him. Hitting the hurdles smoother. Nailing the water jump. “Looks like a real steeple runner now.”
3. Doug and the guys at lunch. They’re shooting the shit. Guys call him out on Victoria. He denies it. She overhears.
4. Tom Black Track Classic 8:47 – Doug wins the race, but comes up short of the time.
5. Doug in class. Can’t get Victoria’s attention. She avoids him when they leave. Her roommate running interference.
6. Doug standing outside Victoria’s Dorm Room window. Convinces her to come down.
7. Indiana Dual Meet 8:44 – Doug wins the race but just falls short of the qualifying time.
8. Danny, Peterman, and Doug training the next day. Some talk about what’s at stake for the NCAA meet coming up, and running the 5K and 10K at the SEC meet.
9. Doug and Victoria settle their differences, and Doug says all the right things.
10. Next morning Victoria wakes to find Doug sitting not he side of the bed reading a letter from Father Stevens. He’ll come to the Olympic Trials if Doug makes it.
11. Doug heading out to the NCAA meet with the team.
12. Doug getting ready for the
13. Doug runs at the NCAA meet. He falls on the 3rd lap in the water jump. Still manages to come in third, with a time of 8:33, qualifying him for the Olympic Trials.
14. Victoria hustles through the dorm all the way to Doug’s room. She finds him sitting on the floor in the middle of all his stuff. Father Steven’s has died.

Act Three

1. Doug traveling to Detroit by bus. Victoria sees him off.
2. Doug arrives at home, greeted by his family.
3. Doug sitting in a church. Father Murphy giving the eulogy. We see Doug in the middle of his family, and they literally take up the entire row.
4. After the funeral Doug in a classroom at the school.
5. Doug and Victoria. He doesn’t want to go. She convinces him, if only for Stevens.
6. Doug with the rest of the team in Eugene.
7. They go fishing the day before.
8. Qualifying heat – Doug runs easy, but never makes a movie past third. The coaches are worried.
9. Race day, nervous, warms up early, meets Steve Prefontaine, tried to take a nap, tried watching TV, forget it!
10. The 3000m race begins. Doug goes down with only 300m to go. Doug pushes it all, leg bleeding, to come in second. While being cared for on the table, Ralph Boston tells Doug about the penalty flag. Jim Dare tells the ref there was no foul, Doug Brown won.
11. The team celebrates out in a bar, Doug looks distant.
12. Doug in bed, tossing and turning.
13. Doug makes his way across campus to the track.
14. He gets to the track, takes it all in, and loses it, his emotions and the significance of the moment finally hitting him.

I’m in a weird, complicated predicament because I very much have a story, but it’s not the story I want to tell, if that makes any sense. I can fee like it’s here, right in front of me, I just can’t see, or more specifically feel, it.

The timeline feels right. I know how it ends. Some of the major beats feel right. But there’s something missing, and it’s driving me crazy.

There are three areas that I think are causing the problem, or are the problem, One, Doug doesn’t have to struggle enough to achieve his goal. Two, Doug and Victoria’s relationship is missing something. Three, Doug and Father Stevens’s relationship is missing something.

In real life Doug pretty much sailed right into the Olympic Trials, and only when faced with what he was actually trying to accomplish did he truly doubt himself. So even before I started to adapt this story, I knew I was going to have to take, or make up, secondary elements to his life to present some sort of struggles for him to overcome.

The first thing that felt natural to put into the story was some sort of love interest. This felt like it could add in some obstacles for Doug to deal with as he went toward his goal. I came up with the idea of the character Victoria based on a girl I was interested in during high school. She went to another nearby high school, and was a staunch anti-jock type of girl. While, I played varsity sports, but I was also heavy into art, reading, comics, and a bunch of other stuff you wouldn’t catch jocks doing. The fact that she showed no interest in my, or more importantly made an effort to show she had no interest in me, drove me crazy. I’m very much the type of person who wants everyone to like me, and I wanted to know why she didn’t. This sort of dynamic I thought could be an interesting subplot to explore with Doug. Somewhat of an “opposite’s attract” type of thing.

The idea of “Father Stevens” came later. There was a high school track coach who my uncle was close with. I felt like there was some sort of mentor needed for Doug. At first I thought this could be Coach Huntsman, but that didn’t feel right. The “old high school coach” seemed like a better fit. He could offer guidance, and was someone that Doug was striving to please, or impress. He was the foundation that Doug’s running was based on. If Father Stevens said it was possible, then to Doug it was. And when Doug loses that foundation, it causes him to question what he’s doing, and whether or not it’s possible.

But even with how right these two subplots feel, there is still something off about them. I don’t know if it’s because there is something there saying that they’re cliche, or if it’s some other aspect to the story. But I know something is wrong.

Until I can solve my problem I’m going to do the same thing I do every time I’m faced with uncertainty, watch movies that deal with the same sort of subject matter, and hope that their stories trigger some sort of thought process that can get me through this.

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steve

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