The Anatomy of an Episode - Part One
Ok, as a kind of experiment (and also a good indicator to anyone I can eventually entice into writing for Odyssey :P), I thought I'd start this "mini-series" of blogs about my own writing (and shooting) process, in the hope that it's useful to those of you who shoot and write yourselves, to see how someone else's "creative process" works.
It might sound a little disjointed, as there are plot points I want to avoid giving away in the interim, but I thought it was worth a shot.
Blog One: The Idea
Ok, so as I've mentioned on the show a coupla times, I have a plan for at least the next two seasons of episodes already laid out, in very rough sketch format. This plan consists of a few pages of Word doc, liberally broken down into synopses under provisional title headings. Titles are something I think people struggle with; sometimes they come slam-bang out of the blue, other times they need long and careful thought, and in the case of Odyssey, I try to make the title fit the episode as much as possible (even if the meaning is a little obscure to begin with).
So, with that in mind, let's look at Episode Six, the next one on my "writing block". This has been slated as a Leyland-focus episode since Day One (as all the other main characters in the ensemble get a spotlight episode this season; Albrecht in Ep1, Nolan in Ep2, Harper in Ep3, Frost in Ep4, M'raal and to an extent Cross in Ep5, and this one is Joseph's chance to stretch his acting wings a tad ;)). As such, it needs to be an episode that examines certain aspects of his character, maybe challenges some of his beliefs, and gives him both a mental/psychological conflict to resolve, as well as a more material one.
So, for character development, what are we looking at here? Well, Leyland has been broad-stroke painted as somewhat of a dull, by-the-book guy upto now. He commands the fighter wing attached to Odyssey (as shown in Ep2), and fulfils the role of Second Officer in the command hierarchy. Slow to anger, slow to joke but fast to complain about a rules infraction, Leyland needs to change a little to adjust to life aboard the Odyssey (a most unusual command crew isn't likely to be seen elsewhere in the Fleet. Ryan has handpicked the crew for a reason... which we may or may not discover directly, over the course of the developing series...), and he has picked the stiff-necked Leyland as well, for a reason.
So, the first two elements are in place; we have a broad idea of the kind of guy Leyland is (already having been set up by the Finale and the preceeding episodes), and the fact we need to make him grow as a person during the course of the show, so we can understand him more.
Eager to avoid the old "estranged father" concept (and having already used it to a degree in Ep3), as well as trying to side-step the old trope of having the character's parents distant, dead or so far away they don't appear, I decided to bring them to the forefront in this episode rather than falling into the stereotype trap. So, Leyland has a happy family; does he see them regularly? Maybe. Is his father proud of what his son has achieved? Probably (as we've already had one strained family situation brought about by unreasonable expectations this season :P).
Brothers or sisters? Maybe an older sister, I feel (breaks out of the usual mode of competing mail siblings). Will she appear in this episode? Who knows; the idea and concept might well be used purely to push the story forward at some point.
So, what's the story about? Well, it's a questioning of Alliance Command's distrust of the growing political and sectarian power the United Church has begun to demonstrate. They don't trust something that looks almost too good to be true. But what's really going on behind closed doors?
Well, that's the subject of Part Two, coming tomorrow... stay tuned for more :)