Category Archives: screenplay structure models

More background on the connections between my novel manuscripts

I do expect to get back to more detailed editing of the novel “Angel’s Brother” within the next week.

But I wanted to make some more notes about the connection between this novel document, which continues from some notes on July 3, 2014.

First, let me give some history.  To the best of my knowledge, “Novel 2”, or “Tribunal and Rapture”, as started first, in the summer of 1999, after I had been to Europe and my mother was more or less recovered from bypass surgery.  (I did not go back from Minnesota but for about a week, but the whole situation then was stressful.)   I believe a draft with most of it was finished by early 2000, all while I was living in the Churchill in downtown Minneapolis. As I note, the story is largely told through the viewpoint of someone other than myself, a retired Muslim-American FBI agent, with considerable military experience, and with a largely secular, modern life (Dubai-like), including a UFO abduction.  He has no conflicts over scriptural religion and modern individualsm, and tends to believe that all three major Abrahamic faiths have more in common than their differences.  I met Muslims like this in the 1980s and 90s during my career and never gave any thought to terrorism.  The book is apocalyptic, ending with the “evacuation of the angels” to a colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

I apparently started the “Novel 1” (“Rain on the Snow”) in the summer of 2000, after a vacation and then a minor crisis at work.  The first part, which presents “Bill” getting invited to a “re-education” Academy (in west Texas) to get to join a doomsday prepper squad (the whole “There is no ‘they’” thing), his getting involved with a mysterious youth Matt who comes across as a Clark Kent, and his being jailed after effectively being framed for Matt’s “death”, ending with his escape with the help of his other minions, and climatic ritual at the end of the book, preparing him for a new world.

When I went to Europe at the end of April 2001, I thought about the idea of deploying the novels.  I remember an afternoon in a hotel in Toulouse, France, having a debate with myself, and thinking about “Rain on the Snow” as the logical choice because the events happened first.

Well, not exactly.  I had written a lot of backstory passages for “Tribunal and Rapture”, which also explained some of the setup of “Rain on the Snow”.  I remember a weekend in July 2001 (about two months before 9/11) when I drove from Minneapolis to the Northwest Angle, and gave a lot of thought to the sequel, “composed first”.  I remember “Frankie and the Path Pit”.  (Frankie is one of Bill’s old boyfriends, who becomes a kind or archangel at the Academy.)  I began to think that this background material needed to be put into “Rain on the Snow”.

So between late 2003 (after I returned to Virginia, because of Mother) and 2005 (in the heart of my substitute teaching) I fashioned a new structure for “Rain on the Snow”, as a kind of Opus 111   The original story center at the Academy and then jail – itself a two-act structure, turned into the “Theme and Variations”, and the entire backstory became the Sonata form, the first movement.   But many of the individual passages and summaries had been proposed as passages in the early chapters of TR (like the “Nighthike” scene at the very end became an erotic backstory insert into Chapter 8, when A;I reads the story of Bill’s escape.)   In TR, I had also played with the idea of lumping much of the backstory material into one prologue (as Clive Cussler and Irving Wallace would do).   I called these passages the “Lumps”.

Finally, I made an Access Database of the enhanced “Tribunal and Rapture” but I applied the stages of screenplay analysis  (Hague, see Feb. 3, 2016), to each of four major characters (most of all Bill) separately.  Later I’ll figure out how to get this analysis into WordPress.

The character Ali has been taking training in remote viewing in a manor in Virginia that is probably modeled after the Monroe Institute.  Some of the materials he views are essentially “The Book of Bill” (rather like “The Book of Eli” (2010)), and some have been stored on optical (EMP-proof) CD’s.

But in “Angel’s Brother”, a major element of the setup is Bill’s duopoly of novels.  The plot builds up to another Nighthike-Initiation-Immolation scene before the “real” Armageddon and evacuation of Earth by the chosen.  But CIA agent Randy has to figure out whether what is in “The Book of Bill” is really fact or fiction (like the 1998 indie sci-fi film “The Last Broadcast” about the Jersey Devil).

In “Tribunal and Rapture” (Novel 2), the protagonist, Ali Mogul, is depicted as mixed-race (about the same as president Obama, perhaps).  So the story is told through the eyes of a minority person (who includes his son, Amos, who gets in trouble with the law with computer hacking, at at time when hacking was just getting started). But in “Angel’s Brother” I move back (that is, regress, from the viewpoint of social and political correctness) to making the primary character subjects white males, both attractive, one gay and one “straight” (sort of), one college age and one entering middle age, in the late summer of life. That makes erotic tension buildup through the first two thirds of the novel possible.   (I’ll have to do a Hauge analysis soon. )  I was drawn back to this viewpoint by my interest in shows like “Smallville”, “Everwood”, etc.  with “attractive” late teen or young adult male character leads.

One can imagine a movie franchise based on all three novels, each of which encapsulates its prequel.  Perhaps the sequence would be called “Tribunals”.  Maybe it could be a Sci-Fi cable series of about three seasons, 8-10 episodes each.  I’d be game for it but I couldn’t do all three alone right now.

At the end, it seems that there is an “evacuation” from an Earth that is going to see its way of life challenged.  (That’s also true of “Epiphany”).  I know how this will come across to some people:  I don’t have room onboard for “losers” (as Trump would see them).

(Posted: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 at 11 PM EST)

“Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”, detailed outline and screenplay structure

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I have recently completed a shooting script for “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” (formerly, “Conscripted”). It is quite detailed except for the secondary backstory flash scenes. The script notes in Final Draft 9 are quite helpful with tracking the details.  I had explained this on Blogger Dec. 30 here.

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Although the July 30 post is still a fairly accurate overview of the story, I have changed some significant deals in how the story progresses.  There is only one visit to each of the “ashrams” until near the end, so the physical journey around the space colony has been simplified.

I think it’s useful to review Mchael Hauge’s “Screenplay structure: Five Key Turning Points” link and map the screenplay onto his outline.

Introduction: Setup:

Scene 1, Page 1

Bill (me) gradually regains consciousness in a dark room in bed, and feels like he is in a “paralysis of sleep” state.

Two other young men, both tall, Brutus and Randy, watch through a one-way window and try viewers (similar to the idea in “Strange Days” (1995, Kathryn Bigelow). .  Elmo, the geek arrives, and does some shell scripting on an older-looking computer terminal to set up “remote viewing” levels for the other arrivals in the space station.  The other young men don’t exactly know where they are either, but can look out on a landscape that resembles Titan, a moon of Saturn.  Gradually, some other young men from Bill’s life arrive, including “Tompom” and Aaron.

Bill relives his own fictitious screenplay, called “The Sub”, where a precocious student comes on to him (when he is teaching), and where he sinks into legal trouble.  The fiction is shown in black and white. Past real incidents that fit the screenplay occur in color.  Bill momentarily experiences a fleeting memory “before anesthesia” of returning home from a party and concert (Elmo had been there) and being surprised to find his mother returned from hospice, before getting a mystery email and leaving the house. But the memory disappears, like a dream that is hard to remember.  The other guys, especially Randy and Brutus, practice reading Bill’s fictitious mind/

The Turning Point  (Scene 39, page 21) occurs when Nolan arrives (“Opportunity”).  Though he resembles the other young men, he seems to be in charge, and is regarded as an “angel”.  As Bill completely regains consciousness, Nolan escorts Bill underground through some chambers to a subway system called the “Mobius”.

The Opportunity (Scene 63, page 29) first shows Randy checking into a hotel, having trouble checking his social media, but looking up a former mentor, Tobey, on line, and learning it takes time for posts and messages to process.  He has dinner with the other men, who have similar experiences.

Bill checks into barracks of what are called “Ashram 3”, with technology of about 1900.  He meets Tovina, who looks about 40 but who hints he dated her in the past and took her to the Senators’s last baseball game. Bill has to learn the housekeeping and cooking chores, sees an unusual garden. He finds a piano that doesn’t work on more modern compositions.  He plays some yard and board games with the kids and finds gravity is a bit weird.

Bill meets Richie, about 50, an old nemesis from his social life years ago in the City.  Richie continues to “domesticate” or “feminize” Bill. Randy arrives, and explains the rules for using the Mobius Metro.  Other college kids “Wechsler” and “Kip” arrive. Wechsler stays “overnight” in the Ashram to monitor Bill, who starts noticing the days seem like a perpetual twilight, like summer at the North Pole.

Bill travels by Mobius to Ashram 4, which looks colonial, mid 1700s.  He learns piano tuning and glassblowing, and finds out that he can’t even play Mozart on the “fortepiano”.  He meets (“Change in Plans”) a former music chum from his days at William and Mary, “Jonesboro”, with whom he refreshes his memory of how he got into music (which got “into his blood”).

In the “Progress” stage (Scene 81, page 43), Tompom, Kip amd Wechsler set up a stage play at Ashram 1 (based on year 2001) after traveling from Ashram 3.  Then they put on the play, showing what went on behind the scenes to get Bill “fired” when he was subbing after the school found out about his screenplay.

Bill visits the low-gravity softball field and plays some workup, and has chest discomfort.

In the “Point of No Return” (Scene 93, Page 51)  Bill gets a keyhole heart treatment, which will not be disruptive, in the “City” near the hotel, under normal gravity.  Then Sydney (also from William and Mary) visits him.  Elon trains Bill in managing the software that controls the access others have to his own “telepathic broadcast” which more or less replaces social media.

Bill is recovered enough to visit Ashram 5, which shows a village as it might have looked at the time of Christ. He learns how “money” works in the ashram, and among angels (where there is a galactic “bitcoin system”). He interacts with Sydney, who confronts Bill about what used to make him tick. Bill learns he will choose a “messiah” among the other young men there.

At “Ashram 2” (1960) Bill helps build a recital hall where his music will be performed.

In “Higher Stakes”  (Chapter 106, page 71) Bill travels back to the City, gets a nanobot injection to help with his memory, and sees the setup: much of the colony is set up as a cylindrical rama with artificial gravity, perpendicular to Titan, so when on it there is a Coriolis effect.

He returns back to Ashram 3 and gets some practice in “just living” before the young men assemble and trade stories as to how they got there. The travel together by “train” to Ashram 1 to re-enact the story of Bill’s 1960 expulsion (although that could have fit Ashram 2 better!)

They travel to Ashram 2 (now!) to do the concert.  As a Setback, some of the music still doesn’t work. But the Nanobots start to work, and Bill finally remembers how they got there

In the “final push” (Chapter 141, page 97) Bill plays his music (with Elmo’s help), and the “tribunal” ritual (“Climax”, quite literally) starts.  Brutus stimulates Bill, who impregnates Tovina.  The ritual poses the question, what in people really should matter?

(Aftermath):  Bill returns to the world, which has been placed in upheaval by repeated power grid failures, while accepting that UFO’s are real because they have been seen publicly.  After Tovina gives birth to Bill’s child, he can return to the spaceship and join on a journey with the angels to other planets.

The people on Earth will rebuild, another cycle of history, but for the next couple hundred years, doomsday preppers (like “Survival Mom” on Facebook) will take over.  History will have many up and down cycles before man is ready to move to the Stars.  Only the chosen few seem to go now.  Oh, please, how do you deserve to be “chosen”?

Update: July 20, 2017

The “fiction” screenplay, which would be shown in black in white, which “Bill” relives in his mind starts on Scene 3,  p. 1 and runs through Scene 55, p. 23

The “stage play” (put on by “students” at the Ashrams, “Hamlet” style, play-within-play ) showing what must have happened behind the scenes at the high school where “Bill” had been subbing run from Scene 81, p. 43 to Scene 89, p. 48.

The account of Bill’s William and Mary Expulsion, running through Army service, runs from scene 113 page 73 to Scene 134 page 90.

Bill speaks to an audience in the “2001 Ashram 4” and some of it is again acted out by student “dancers” on a stage.

(Return to original post)

The “City” on Titan should look like the art work in this video of Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony #1 in E, with the “famous” choral conclusion.

Play the grandiose ending!

(Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 10:30 PM EST)