I have allowed myself to take a day off writing T.U.B.E. today to study, and I had an experience like no other. I can’t recommend it to you enough, to try it. I have submerged myself in a story in three of its incarnations in one day, to study the underlying structure. Have wanted to do it for months now until I realized I won’t have time for it unless I make time.
Today seemed perfect. Quiet. Sunny. With nothing on my calendar. So I thought, when will I have a quiet day like this again? I was going to re-block the scene I was working on for the last several days, but then I looked at the book on my reading couch, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. It was a library book, and I had to return it soon, and I haven’t gotten to reading it yet, because I was busy doing things. And then I looked up the movie, and it was still playing in the theaters.
And in a flash a plan was born.
I looked at the book. It was only 195 pages long, so I thought, “Perfect.” I went to look for the script. I found the script. I thought, “Double perfect.” The book would take me four hours to read, the script another hour to hour-and-half. And then I’d go see the movie. And so I have decided it was okay to slow down. I would deliver everything I promised to any of you a day later. It was okay to take a break from re-blocking the scene.
So I did. I had my coffee, then I read the book in one gulp. I took a quick break, then I read the script. Then I took another quick break, and then I went to see the movie.
I’ll leave it up to you to do the same with any story you choose, but I can tell you this was a magnificent exercise (planning to do the same with Ready Player One, and already did this, though not in one day, with Die Hard, Jaws, The Joy Luck Club, Red Sparrow—though for the last two I couldn't find the scripts). I'll remember this day for a long time. So happy I've allowed myself to do it.
It had shown me the same underlying structure in all three story media: novel, screenplay, film.
I can't recommend it enough that you do the same. The structure of 12 Columns was there, at work, right in my face. I've also seen how it can be peeled back in layers to adopt to different media, how inventing certain scenes can strengthen or weaken the story, and how no matter what medium the story is in, the skeleton underneath it remains the same. If you know how to construct a skeleton, you're dangerous. You're unstoppable. You can create stories that have the ability to change the world. Which is what I intend to do with T.U.B.E.
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