I got my script coverage back from Scriptapalooza last week. It was more positive than I expected which was a pleasant surprise, and I learned something I didn't know I didn't know so it was worth the money to get a report back. The main comments referred to a concept I thought I understood, but clearly didn't. Other people have told me the same thing and I obediently shook my head, 'Yuppers, I get it,' whilst missing the point entirely.
But I thought I understood so that has to count for... exactly nothing, actually.
Their main (and nearly only, yay me:) criticism about my entry revolved around the various story lines. My A story was exciting and interesting. My B story was interesting but didn't have much to do with the A story beyond appearing and taking up pages. The C story was interesting but petered away into nothing like a fart in the wind. A winning script, that does not make.
I've read and been told to tie the three separate story lines together. I thought I did, but just being set in the same universe with the same characters in the same script isn't enough. Just being present isn't enough. The separate story lines have to feed back into each other like a braid.
I pondered this and pondered this and pondered this, still not quite grasping the concept. While I was pondering, I discovered to my eternal delight that BBC4 isn't region locked. At first glance, this has nothing to do with anything except to be an additional way to mess around on the web, but at second glance, this completely revolutionized everything.
Cabin Pressure --> Johannesburg --> Play
If you've never listened to Cabin Pressure, stop what you're doing, download it and come back. I'll wait. It's brilliant, hysterically funny, and I think I'm in love. It's my new favorite show.
So I'm thinking deep thoughts about my script report and the various failures of the story lines to relate back to each other while I listened. I laughed my way through the episode then instantly started it over because my mind was making some interesting connections amid all the giggles. I paid much more attention to how the episode unfolded the second/third/fourth time listening.
Did I mention it's brilliant?
In the A story: Caroline is annoyed at Martin and Douglas and makes them cut two thousand pounds off their budget for the trip. If they succeed they can split the money. If they fail and come in a single penny over, they have to pay her a grand apiece. She thinks it's a fantastic idea. They're not so sure, but with a thousand pounds on the line, they're willing to go along with her. Also she doesn't actually give them any choice.
To save on fuel, Douglas shakes the plane down and tosses anything he deems unnecessary weight, including the coffee pot. Later during the B story Douglas tells Arthur to fill a wine bottle with water and set it on the edge of the engine to heat up so they can make coffee later. Incidentally, that sets up the C story. It all just builds on itself.
In the B story: A warning light comes on, leading to an emergency landing to get it fixed. Martin and Arthur go on an away mission to retrieve a mechanic and suffers assorted hijinks, including getting their borrowed baggage truck stuck under a bridge while Douglas is still focused on the A story of trying to come in under budget. When presented with the bill for their emergency stop, he has to do something to knock twenty bucks off so the airfield manager floats the idea of Douglas washing his car.
It's the same car the airfield manager refused to let them borrow at the beginning of the B story which led to Martin and Arthur dinking around Spain in a baggage truck. Determined not to pay Caroline a thousand pounds, Douglas whines about it, agrees, and parks the car behind the plane to wash it with some minor heckling from Caroline. He needs the money, okay?
Martin and Arthur return with a mechanic, he fixes their problem by thumping the instrument panel, revealing that the plane wasn't actually broken at all, just the little yellow warning light.
They're going to take off before the airfield closes at five, they're under budget, they won't owe Caroline any money. Martin does a quick jog around the plane for his preflight inspection and they get ready to leave. For once everything goes right. Or does it?
The tower calls them in a panic. They've fired a missile. Directly into the car Douglas washed to reduce the bill (A story). It's still parked behind the plane they thought was broken (B story). The missile is the wine bottle in the engine Arthur forgot about (C story).
Presumably they don't finish the trip under budget.
There you have it. A story, B story, and C story. They cross and crisscross each other.
Go listen to the episode if you haven't already. You can pick out the places the different story lines intersect. I feel like I've had a writer breakthrough. When people say tie the different story lines together they honestly mean tie them together. They're not being cryptic. It's not enough to be happening at the same time or be in the same script, they have to weave in and out like a braid.
I'm going back and doing another page 1 rewrite of horror script so it's ready to go the very instant 'Girls on Film' reopens. Right now horror script is another example of A, B, and C not coming anywhere near each other, let alone interlacing. Now I can fix that.
Thank god for Cabin Pressure.