July 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm #2943Jane YParticipant
I’m on my third draft (and, with luck, I’ve got the revision straight this time) of a historical thriller, involving identicals, one raised in Germany, one in England, who try to replace one another. Ultimate stakes: the 1908 revised map of the Schlieffen Plan as revised by Moltke, giving locations and dates of German strikes against British allies. (And the means by which someone can avert the carnage that was the Great War from ever occurring). Vik has been extraordinarily helpful in pointing up ways in which the suspense can work at every level–in this instance, to preserve the audience’s ignorance of the identity of the man we follow after the fourth scene, where the two men try to kill each other but leave without discovering whether the other man has survived.
I’m about 60% through a rewrite of the novel form (taking about a chapter a day to turn out quotable, rather than workman-like prose), but I’ve no bloody clue how to break the story into the 3-6 acts required of long-form television. I’m hoping to get two seasons from the current novel, which ends with a direct lead-in to a sequel that follows many of the same questions (and a bevy of new ones) from its precursor. But first I have to know how on earth I break a pilot into scenes. I find I have difficulty determining where acts begin and end even in long-form television–and I spent years in film school and a childhood growing up around actors and a playwright, when I went to the theatre nightly. Clearly, the act structure of standard drama has only a glancing relationship to the ones we see onstage. Or else the different forms flag rising/falling action so differently, I find recognizing the shifts between acts difficult.July 27, 2015 at 9:12 pm #2944Vik RubenfeldKeymaster
Class 3 will provide very actionable information on the topic of Act Structure!July 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm #2956Tracy Diane MillerParticipant
I am already intrigued by the synopsis of the plot you have presented. It sounds as if you already have some dramatic twists and turns to keep an audience engaged and invested.
Recently, Vik wrote a wonderful blog post about the Use of Foreshadowing to Build Suspense. By citing Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Vik provided examples of how extensive foreshadowing could exist yet Conrad maintains the suspense to keep the audience in eager anticipation. I would think that in breaking a story, each part could offer a bit of foreshadowing to drive the suspense elements & create tension.
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