Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Captain's Blog 10.03.09

Blog One: The Idea II
Ok, so we have established in yesterday's opener that Leyland's character has been a little one-dimensional upto now, so we're going to "plump it out" a bit in this episode. We've given him a very bare family background (happy, supportive parents and maybe a sibling)... we've established that the continuing story of the "behind the scenes" political situation is going to be furthered a bit in this one... and there's an additional caveat to add now; this episode has to set up the happenings in the season finale. As such, there is a literal "plot device" that I need to ensure makes a prominent appearance in this episode (not going to mention what it is, or what it does, so as to preserve the surprises for the episode itself, but will allude to it under the "PD" heading throughout the following blogs).

So, we have a PD, a bit of backstory (that will get some fleshing out as we progress) and a mysterious "end goal" in sight for this episode (already worked out in the initial plot plan).

Before I go on, a word about Plot Plans. I feel that, for an episodic format, a Plot Plan is absolutely essential. I need to be able to plan out how and where the course of the over-arcing story is going to go through the course of each season (for two main reasons; 1) to ensure that the "end point" of each season is met and 2) to make sure that I know the essential questions for each episode, and the season in general; who, what, where, how, why, when. Who is featured in the story? What are they doing? Where are they doing it? How are they doing it? Why are they doing it (the most important question)? When are they doing it? Get basic answers to these 6 questions, and we have the bare framework of a plot.

Who is obvious; Leyland. What are they doing? At this point, that's still a little nebulous, so we'll come back to that. Where is going to be Earth (dictated by the appearance of the character's family, but also (and more importantly) the place where the main part of the story is going to play out. How is he doing it? Well, in order to break his "mould" a little, I decide that Leyland is going to be forced into working "undercover" for some reason; this challenges his usual method of operating strictly "by the book", and will force him to make some decisions that he wouldn't normally have to face, which is all good character developing stuff. Why? Well, that is part of the main plot of the episode, which will become apparent as we go forwards. When? Well, time-wise this is pretty much the least important of the questions on this occasion, but could become important later on.

So, there we have the bare bones of our plot process; the initial idea nugget (as mentioned in yesterday's post), fleshed out by the addition of a character with the potential of not only external conflict situations (being undercover immediately brings attendant risks), but (in the case of the character we've selected to showcase) also the inner conflict of a man needing to face his own limitations and personal code of ethics head on. Lots of juicy stuff there!

To bring this into relief a bit more, let's examine an existing episode and see how the process works. Episode One was written specifically to showcase the character of Albrecht (as she didn't get much chance to do anything in the finale). In this instance, I wanted to demonstrate several aspects of her character in order to flesh her out a bit more. She's friendly, yet authoritative (the exchanges with Cross, Ryan snf the Major indicate this); she's also fiesty and fully capable of looking after herself (the confrontations with Ryan and Mannheim); however, there are also hints of a deeper and perhaps darker side to our beloved First Officer (the implied fact that she embarked on an illicit affair with Mannheim and seemingly used him for her own ends was deliberately written to turn the stereotypical situation on it's head; no simpering woman bemoaning the fact she was used and dropped when no longer needed here... oh no; we reverse the roles and find Mannheim in the firing line for that part! The fact that he acts the way he does takes some of the heat off the implied treatment he received by Albrecht, but at no point does she deny what he says, notice...)

She is obviously very close to Ryan (how close, and at what stage their relationship is, is never stated), she is capable of reacting instinctively to something she doesn't like (the "slap heard round the ship") and could quite easily be charged with allowing her emotions to cloud her judgement and overrule her objective thinking (well, she IS human, after all, and not some flat, 2 dimensional cardboard cut-out!); hopefully, all this rounds her out a bit more as a "real" individual.

The 6 Questions, when applied to Episode One, work a little like this:-

1) Who (Albrecht, obviously, but to a lesser extent Ryan, Cross and the other crew)
2) What (obstensively a story about piracy, it's really about our perceptions of people, how circumstances can affect our "destiny" and what lengths we are prepared to go to in our quest for "happiness")
3) Where (not so important in this episode, as we flit about quite a bit)
4) How (by using the character of Mannheim as a "mirror", we examine a little of what makes Rachel who she is as a person and round her out a bit more, as well as expanding the Odyssey universe a little with our first glimpse at the Scolian League, filling out the overall tapestry a bit and alluding to the ongoing political situation in the galaxy in light of the events of the Pilot episode.
5) Why (as said above, the idea was to round out Albrecht and make her more "solid"; she is definately a heroine, but not one that's whiter than white, has made some wrong and perhaps dubious choices in her past and has had to live with those decisions)
6) When (right at the beginning of the Odyssey's first operational mission, so we can see a little more of the universe as it unfolds and get a glimpse at how she operates in her normal routine, which can then be "taken as read" for most future episodes. It also allows us time to reacquaint ourselves with the central characters before the season gets fully underway).

Ok, with the reasoning outlined a bit, and the bare bones in place, we move on to the actual fleshing out of the plot... which comes in Part Three ;)

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