1) How far in advance did you have the overall story planned out? (9-19-07)
That one’s the easiest. I’m pretty good at figuring out storylines. Usually within a few days of having an idea, I know where it goes and what it’s going to do.
In the case of God in the Machine, I know the “story” of each season, the overall plot. I also know , for season one, the lot of almost every single episode. For season two, I know the story for every episode up to episode eight or so.
All the way through, I know the plots of episodes and scenes and bits of dialog. I know how the series ends. I know the big surprise and the cliff-hanger I’m waiting to write in season 3.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that this isn’t my first serial. Writing serials like this is my natural medium. Yesterday, accidentally, I fleshed out another long serial story that I sure as hell won’t pursue until GitM is done. It just happens.
The point I was getting at, though, is that not all serials plan out that neatly,and they don’t always have to. They don’t HAVE to be one long story, after all. I had one serial, several years ago, that ran for its first season of eighteen episodes beautifully, and then I came back for season two…and realized that my planned storyline was irrelevant. So I randomly pursued loose threads from season one.
2) How far in advance did you have the episodes completed? (9-19-07)
That one’s a bit more tricky. I had the first three episodes finished, because it was intended for release somewhere else before I wound up doing it like this.
I finished episode 4 six hours late on the day of its release. Episode 5, which I’m writing now, I hope to have done properly and on time this time around.
Ideally, I like to work two episodes ahead. Which is to say, I like to have two episodes done and be writing a third episode. This used to be easier, because I would write three or four episodes at once, at varying degrees of speed, so they tended to stagger.
Another issue — and this is specific to a certain type of problem — is that I’m working with an artist, the wonderful Chris Saar, and means I need to get him episodes, or at least get him descriptions of scenes, well in advance so he has time to do an illustration or two for the episode. That’s the hard part.
So, this week, I finished episode 4 on Monday (it was exhausting and really rough, because it was a complicated and story-line-difficult episode to write and burned me out). Tuesday, I didn’t write anything. Come to that, I barely functioned around the house. Today, Wednesday, I’m rushing to try and have episode 5 done by Thursday, so that I can spend Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday working on episode 6 and maybe a bit of my other writing projects.