Story Concepts & Development for Novels, Comics, Games, Film and TV

Plugging Away…

Today, I turned in a chunk of Alien Confidential scripts, which encompasses the first half of the story so far. I’m grateful for all the years of comics and screenwriting because, without it, I wouldn’t have as much experience in honing story structure and dialogue. Webcomics are proving to be a great vehicle for that training.

I am also the progenitor of a writer’s group called A Writer’s Afternoon, who gets together once a month to exchange and critique work. We met when we were all students in a beginning screenwriting class, and have been meeting regularly now for over three years.

They don’t hold back their punches and their feedback always makes my work better. We enter contests, watch films together, and share our failures and triumphs as we move through the entertainment industry.

Although our group mostly focuses on screenwriting, we have also critiqued comic book scripts, book treatments, even movie reviews. We know each other very well and have become close friends.

In between writing deadlines this month, I have passed several of my Alien Confidential scripts under their nose, to see if my “voice” is coming through, and if the quirky tone I’m striving for is remaining consistent.

When I came in on the Alien Confidential project, I wasn’t given a lot to go on regarding the main character, Arash. What I got from Namco was “Arash started Black & White after he was disengaged from G.R.A.Y., the government-backed international underground organization charged with keeping interstellar alien immigration under wraps and under control.”

And the one image I was given was of a fit, 30-something guy in a black suit holding an enormous alien weapon – who I assumed was Arash.

If you’ve read my first blog entry, you know I had only hours to develop the first several scripts. I had to make some quick decisions, so I started with the main character.

One of the first questions I asked myself was “If Arash is still so young and not yet “out of the game” physically (meaning, he had no apparent injuries), then why did he leave G.R.A.Y. to open a bar?”
Secondly, it seemed to me that, since Arash is human, opening an underground bar that only serves aliens seems rather isolating. That told me that Arash either feels more comfortable with aliens, or he has good reasons to avoid human contact.

That’s when my image of Arash started to come together. I saw him as a character similar to Rick Deckard from Blade Runner – a hard but stalwart hero, with a quiet, noir-ish edge.

At this point, I had the foundation of a character I knew I could build off of, so I pushed forward.

I figured it would be natural for someone from the Agency to come to the bar, looking to bring Arash back into the fold (See “Old Flames”). Of course, I could’ve just chosen some random shmoe to show up and make the request, but where’s the conflict in that? So I made it a former partner of Arash’s named Manski, who acknowledges that Arash was the best partner he ever had.

[I am also a fan of main characters who are “quintessential” to their story.]

Clearly, these two guys were close once, but now there is some sort of wall between them. Given Arash’s hostility toward Manski, it must’ve been a pretty big event…

And maybe, if Namco (and you all) likes the work and asks for more stories, we’ll get to find out what that event was. 😀

It’s funny. At times, I feel as much a spectator as the writer as I “watch” the stories unfold around me. And the further I dig in, the more I find myself won over by Arash and the motley band of misfits he is gathering.

If all goes well, they are starting to win you over too. Until next time…

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