Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chapter Ten - Part Two - Point of View

As I've been thinking about my orchard, my tendency has been to take a bird's eye view of the field. In writing that's the definition of Omniscient point of view...usually told in third person. It is an observant perspective that let's me look at the "big picture". However, as I've been researching site locations for orchards, I've come to think that not only must I have an overview of the whole orchard, I must invest in the point of view of each tree because each tree, though it produces the same fruit, will ultimately, be unique.

The other thing about point of view, perhaps particularly in screenwriting, is that taking the omniscient point of view guarantees that you'll have a plot-driven script, rather than a character-driven script. That works well for episodic television, or pop-corn thrillers with bunch of sequels, but for my orchard of screenplays I know that each script will need to have a strong character arc, or as I like to call them character parabola. That's why I know that I'll only write twelve to sixteen of them in total.

Twelve to sixteen stories doesn't sound like a life's work, but in the screen trade it is actually improbable that they will all be produced if I'm lucky enough to have one of them made into a film. They will be of a piece though, and each tree, or script, will stand alone as well as it stands with its fellows of necessity. Thematically, they are going to be related and somewhat sequential, but each will defend a point of view, their place in the orchard.

Taking this as my design aesthetic has created a puzzle for me that is exciting and somewhat problematic. For instance, I have a thriller idea, and now I'm wrestling with defining my point of view rather than busily plotting the twists and turns. This thriller will be a knotty tree, but shall it be at the center of my orchard? I think not. It is a tree better suited for the outer rim. The stories near it may also be hard-boiled, but they will protect from the raging wind, the delicate tree with the sweeter fruit. That tree that will be strategically planted later with the respectable reputation of entertaining scripts around it to give it a bit of favor in the sun.

This orchard then is becoming a strategy that I hope will allow the different trees to thrive together. The purpose of all of this planning is to be more than a one-hit wonder, or to become bored by the expectations of repetitive writing. The market loves mass production. It is safe and comfortable. However, you're the end consumer, and don't you love a film that is strongly-flavored, delicate and unique, like an heirloom peach you get at the farmer's market?

For that kind of peach, I gladly pay the price.

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