Writing and research and whatnot.
Last month I restructured my in-progress historical audio drama mini-series…
November’s writing and whatnot included…
• Untitled Historical Audio Drama (Audio Drama Mini-Series)
• Short Stories Trailer (Audio Fiction)
• Fire on the Mound (Podcast Novel BTS Videos)
(BTW, in case you didn’t know, green text in this newsletter are links which provide supplemental material)
Untitled Historical Audio Drama (Audio Drama Mini-Series)
In the audio clip below I read a scene I worked on in November. Now, I don’t have the acting chops to give this kind of material the necessary gravitas I am aiming for— I’m just reading it— so think of Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles having a tête-à-tête.
Since meaning derives from context, you’re out of luck just hearing a scene from somewhere past the middle of this mini-series, but this might help a little: two reporters meet at the location of a crisis, we’ve been following them separately up to this point. One (called B in the clip) arrived several hours before the other (called L), and so has been to a local hospital and seen the victims L has not. B arrived without permission but L, as the official voice, only just arrived and will go where told. Later, a third reporter appears, a kind of carnival barker slash preacher, another historical figure. He is suggestive of what we now call “Newstainment,” but it’s not a recent phenomenon, really.
Listening to this I can hear the clunky moments in my writing, but that’s fine— you kinda project that one day, when you’ve written the whole thing and looped back to the beginning, you’ll smooth it all over— and proper actors will also bring another dimension. You imagine an elevation.
Notes on this project for November:
Recently, my brother told me our high school history teacher passed away. So I am dedicating this audio drama series to him— Mr. Bill Collar.
At the start of the month, I received some encouraging and complimentary feedback on Episode 02 from playwright Matthew Robinson, so that’s nice (actually, he likes it a bit more than I do, atm).
I’m an iterator. Iterationer? And November certainly played that out:
When I started writing this mini-series in September, I told myself I wanted it to be four, one-hour episodes— and I wanted to have at least one full draft of it by the end of the year. Although the first part has changed, the second part might still happen.
November started with Episode 01 being 56 pages and Episode 02 being 90 pages. Seemed I was writing one episode a month, roughly six drafts each, as I was iterating each scene several times before moving on to the next. So when November started, I figured it was best to leave Episode 02 as it was (too long) but I better get cracking on Episode 03 to meet my end-of-year deadline.
A couple weeks ago I reached page 60 of Episode 03— but still had a few scenes to go. So, I re-evaluated the structure a bit. I had two structural intents from the beginning: one was to end each episode with a particularly reporter, the aforementioned L, and two was to make sure each of the four main characters appeared in at least one scene per episode. These two guidelines together over-inflated Episode 02 because L had a scene at page 60, but one of the four main characters only appeared in the next scene, the aforementioned B, and these two events were intrinsically linked, as cause and effect. So, although I could punt the conclusion of Episode 02 to another episode, I could not move it earlier. Plus, to keep L concluding each episode, I had another scene with him following the one with B. Thus, going over one hour by 30 pages or so.
However, I figured as I progressed with the rest of the story, I would discover— through additional research— a logical solution.
Another factor: the timeline of historical events creates a plot bottleneck (Episodes 01-02 covers about a seven year span, while Episode 03 is but a month). So, jumbling scenes around becomes less viable past the series’ midway point, although it is not undoable in the first half, as there is wide stretches of time.
This led me, in part, to see if I could end Episode 02 around page 60 to keep my first intent (ending each episode with L). Then, I could punt the remainder of Episode 02’s scenes to 03 and make (the old) 03 into 04 and (the old) 04 into 05. And call it a de facto five-act structure, so I can sleep at night.
To keep my second intent for Episode 02, of each main character appearing, I would just need to pull some of the material now in 03, an event mentioned, but one which occurred earlier in the timeline, and rather than tell it I could show it— rewrite it into an earlier point in 02 as its own scene, one which plays out now in real-time.
Last week I finished (the new) Episode 04 at about 75 pages. Trimming required, sure, but nothing egregious, all things considered.
This restructuring also means (the new) Episode 03 is already about 40 pages long, without specifically working on it, so it’s near completion. And Episode 05, the finale, is starting with a jump start in December, simply because I woke up one day and for no reason that I can think of immediately wrote its opening scene.
See, isn’t this fun.
Short Stories Trailer (Audio Fiction)
I made a trailer for my six stand-alone audio stories:
Waiting to Die in a Tent, A Few Thoughts on Valhalla • The old viking warrior Einarr and his young friend Mikel battle to protect their distant city of Reidun. When Einarr is mortally wounded, Mikel sets out to locate Einarr’s estranged daughter Kára for a final father-daughter reunion. But before they can return, a mysterious figure finds Einarr alone-- and about to breathe his last • Starring Boyd Barrett, Karin Heimdahl, Owen McCuen, and Madeline Goshorn
The Loser • Jordan’s new best friend has a cruel surprise in store for her on their shared birthday, not suspecting the wicked scheme could lead to a paranormal disaster • Read and Performed by Emily Strand
Goodbye, She Said • When ‘She’ loses her boyfriend and her sister on the same day, ‘She’ indulges in a newfound compulsion for horror. ‘He’ begins to investigate, believing the rumored monster cult is responsible for all their woes • Featuring Nicola Branch as the singing voice of ‘She’ • Read and Performed by William J. Meyer • Additional Voices by Cary Michael Ayers, Nathan Bonilla-Warford, Duncan Cassidy, Owen McCuen, Jenny Seegers, William Seegers, and Andrew Wardlaw • Music by William Seegers
The House That Jack Built • When newlyweds Jack and Liz move into their new house on a small island, a nearly-forgotten arson casts a fiery shadow over their marital bliss— and the strange creature haunting them • Read and Performed by William J. Meyer • Music by William Seegers
And Worms Do Not Destroy • Somewhere and somewhen on the perilous island of Naosaleyn, a mythic odyssey challenges a pair of barbarian brothers as they set off on an arduous pilgrimage to beseech The Blessed Immortal King • Starring Steve Rudolph. Featuring Cary Michael Ayers, A.J. Beckles, Julia Eve, Sarah Golding, Karim Kronfli, Owen McCuen, and Elizabeth Novotny
Fire on the Mound (Podcast Novel BTS Videos)
Continuing to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of my podcast novel Fire on the Mound, I uploaded Fire on the Mound BTS videos to YouTube and created this playlist.
Includes interviews with reader Steve Rudolph and composer William Seegers— plus an introduction which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I used to wear hats and vests and ties.
Which is a decent segue to mention— I’ve been watching a lot of Family Ties. I mean a lot. At least two a day. Started from the beginning. One thing you notice when binging Family Ties is that Alex P. Keaton loves his orange juice. If he’s in the kitchen, he’s drinking orange juice, it’s just that simple.
I might skip posting for December and see you again in January, not sure…
thanks for reading—
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