Tag Archives: No way out – the challenge

No Way Out – the Second Installment

13 Apr

Unedited first draft. Please offer your thoughts within the comments. First installment can be found here. remember this is your project as much as mine so we are looking for a) further plot developments b) inaccuracies c) HONEST opinions and anything else you want to add. If you haven’t been involved to date, check out the page above with a full list of related posts.

‘Take a seat,’ Charles commanded as Steve shut the door  behind him, before even reaching the round back chair, deliberately chosen to be uncomfortable and uninviting Charles said ‘I won’t dance with my words. We have to let you go.’

Steve finally sat, stunned. Surely Charles was having him on.

‘You may as well as clear your desk immediately. Your contacts have been transferred already. If you speak with Sharon, she has all your documents.’ Charles turned to his computer and began typing.

Steve tried to find his voice, ‘But..’

Sighing Charles turned to Steve. ‘Don’t make this harder than it has to be. Your sales record does not make you invincible. Our staff have to give 100%. Shut the door on your way out.’

Steve did just that. As he walked across the sales floor, he was reminded of the scene from Jerry Maguire. Tempted to ask who was him? But he already knew the answer. It was obvious. All of these people, the ones that had shared his champagne, frequented lunches with, they all smirked and turned away. It was laughable. He didn’t feel anything except pity. Pity for these people that worked for a company that didn’t care, and in turn had become soulless themselves. He knew their greed. He knew nothing mattered accept that next sale. He also knew they wouldn’t get it. There had only ever been one reason for his success, one reason why he stood above the rest, quite simply, he gave a damn.

Steve grabbed his jacket and keys, and left the office. No hugs, no farewells, and no regrets. They had done him a favour. It was obvious he and Poppy were entering a new stage, and what better way than to enter it without the trash of the past.

***

Steve ran down the stairs scooping Michael from the floor he ran from the house. Mindful of how sensitive Michael is, Steve bundled him into the car, with promises of a surprise.

‘What surprise Daddy?’ Michael beamed, the features on his face highlighted by a rosy glow.

Thinking on his feet Steve responded cheerily, ‘How does a play in the park followed by the nugget shop or pizza sound?’ Michael cheered and began to chat incessantly. Steve, as hard as he tried he could not listen, the images of the past few minutes crashed like a cannon ball around his head.

Pausing in traffic, Michael’s voice broke his thoughts ‘…and what about the shower Daddy? Didi the man fix it?’

‘What?’

‘Mummy said the man was fixing the shower. Did he do it?’

Steve swerved the car into the parking space. Snapping his seat belt he turned to Michael’ we’re here. Last one to the swings is a monkey.’

Sitting on the bench, Steve watched Michael play with two other children. He thanked his lucky stars that this was the case. He hated to admit it, but right now was not the time for him to be with Michael. He didn’t have the capacity to be a caring loving father, broken husband and recent redundee all at once. His luck couldn’t get any worse. But this wasnt his fault. He didn’t do all of this. It was her. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t rationale her behaviour.

It had taken him what now felt like a lifetime to realise what was happening before his eyes. Thinking rationally, he was sure it was barely seconds, but he wouldn’t stand in court and swear on it. The ruffled bed, the strewn clothes, the stranger with his wife before his eyes. When she turned, and realised he was stood there, on the threshold of the bedroom, she had smiled, a slow smirk of a smile, it hit him hard, it was the second time that day he had seen that look on the lips of those he was meant to be connected to.

The words had stuck in his throat, the emotions strangling him. He had connected with her eyes. They wasn’t cold, or filled with hate. No love no compassion, just empty. Needless to say he had never seen such blankness in her, or anyone else for that matter. It was like the life was gone.

Maybe that was it. Maybe the loss of their child had taken everything from her. Maybe there was more to her grief than what had been on show. It was often said that you hide the most from those you hold most dear. But, the smirk, the very deliberate smirk, she knew what she was doing. The whys where’s and how longs were questioned to be answered later. For now, all he knew for certain was that she felt no remorse for what she had done.

****

Poppy sat on the bed, wrapped in her dressing gown, knees hugged to her chest. The silence in the house was just that, silent. Outside the clouds moved across, the dusk beginning to settle around the house like the dusk did every night. There was no comfort in the darkening skies, just as there was nothing to hear in the silence. The world was, at least within the house, just nothing.

Knowing steve would return soon, had to return soon, did not drive Poppy to move. The voice that still gave a damn told her she should at least get dressed , remake the bed, but the naughty voice, the one that she had indulged for too many months now told her to forget it, what was done is done, and finally so.

She could already predict the conversations that were soon to take place, both to her face and behind her back. It will be the shock of what she had done, how her and steve had always been such a strong couple, think of Michael.

Well it was Michael she was thinking of. If it hadn’t happened now, it would have happened later. If left they would have argued and Michael would have witnessed that. He would have heard the awful words, the terrible accusations, felt the tension. As for those that would argue she should have tried, well she had. But it was quite simple, if you didn’t love someone, then no matter how hard you try, you cannot wave tinkerbells magic wand and be in wonderland. There may be such a thing as happily ever after, but it would never be with her and Steve. Cheating may have been cowardice, but it will certainly provide the opportunity to escape.

Looking around the room, Poppy critiqued it. From the cream and brown walls, to the thick pile carpet, to the intricately wove bedding, Poppy knew she was surrounded by luxury that very few could afford. It was a risk she had taken, but she knew these things, as much as she adored them, were not enough.  She remembered, she had practically begged Steve for the hardwood shutters at the window, the thought of not having them , not having the perfect home had just been too much for her to handle. How shallow she had been. And yet, she had been online, she had spoken to women in unhappy marriages, and all they wanted was just what she had, just what she was leaving. She didn’t think any less of these women, she couldn’t even begin to imagine what life would have been like had her and Steve been hard up, but what she did know, even without money worries, steve was not enough.

Standing, Poppy walked across the room, and swung open her wardrobe door. Stepping inside she saw the plaque that still made her laugh out loud, ‘All men are idiots. Better to be married to an idiot with money than without’. This time however, she wasn’t laughing from the memory of the purchase, or at the saying men are idiots but just the irony that she was married to an idiot with money.

Needless to say Steve hated the plaque, he wasn’t too fond of the ‘what if the hokey cokey is all its all about?’ plaq either, but they were her guilty pleasure, and they could be found in her wardrobe only. Her little sanctuary. As much as she loved her house, and frankly, who couldn’t, sometimes she wished she could be brave enough to throw some colour or quirkiness in. Conformity was where she had been at since being with Steve, but today was the first day that was going to change all that. She could feel it, like a bubble of recklessness fizzing around her insides, it escaped in the form of laughter, freedom, her mouth salivated, her eyes glinted with mischievousness, this was it, the time had finally come, feeling breathless Poppy danced to the music in her head, pausing to chew her lip, suppressing the scream of excitement.

No Way Out – The First Installment

20 Mar

After several false starts, I finally have the first installment of ‘No Way Out’ that I would like to share with you.

It has not received even what I class as a first edit, as I am not ready, nor have I written enough to begin that process. So take it as you will. I shall continue to write in this format and share it with you. remember this is OUR project so if you can see me heading in a direction that you don’t feel works, or perhaps my characters are unbelievable, please shout it out.

The tears poured down her face. The pain, or was it just discomfort was more than she had ever dared imagine possible. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Surely the guilt of her actions was enough.

The nurses were kind enough. If she allowed herself to think it, she may even say caring, but how they couldn’t be judging her right now she didn’t know.

As she was wheeled into the next room, she kept her eyes closed. Slowly they helped her into a wheelchair, and then pushed her into a lift upstairs to a room to recover. They all spoke to one another, jovially talking about their plans for the weekend whilst she sat there praying for a distraction. The distraction never came, but who would be listening to her right now. They had said when she came in she was lucky, normally the bible bashers were hanging around outside, but maybe, just maybe, that would have made her feel better. At least it would have been a sign that this just wasn’t OK.

***

Steve busied himself in the kitchen. He could hear CBeebies coming from the lounge; the jolly jingles a contrast to his and his wife’s feelings of despair. Gently stirring the tomato soup Steve berated himself. Just the day before, he and his boss had shared a bottle of champagne in the office. Once again Steve had made salesman of the year for the UK, and was shortly to hear if he had indeed been awarded the coveted international prize. Without mortgage, debt, but a beautiful wife, a three year old son and a recently confirmed pregnancy, Steve felt as if the world had turned on its axis.

The celebrations had come too early, just seeing Poppy’s face as he had walked in the door the evening before had confirmed this error.

Pouring the hot soup into a bowl, Steve felt a movement behind him.

‘Daddy’ questioned the small voice of his son, ‘why is mummy crying?’

Crouching down low, Steve pulled Michael into him, ‘Mummy is just poorly, she just needs lots of hugs to make her better’

Seeming to accept this answer, Michael pulled away and went back through to the lounge. Steve followed with the soup, hoping that these little gestures would help make everything OK.

***

‘Will you just go back to work?’ Poppy hissed at Steve, the frustration of the past five week’s nonstop companionship smacking the air

Steve turned to Poppy, confusion on his face, ‘But I thought you needed me here?’

‘Just go.’

Poppy was seething. Unable to return to work herself until Steve stopped fussing, Poppy felt as if the world had been torn away from her. Isolated, lonely yet always in company, Poppy just craved normality. Actually, she just craved her time to be the person she had always been, the person that was only ever allowed to escape at work. The person that since meeting Steve had been locked away. It wasn’t his fault, well, he never asked to change, but when she did, and she lived her life as he did his, he never commented, he never questioned why, he just allowed it to happen. Life was all about what he did and what he wanted. There wasn’t room at home for Poppy.

***

The message on the email read,

My office. Ten mins.

Steve looked through his own office window, across the sea of administrative staff and into Charles’ office. Catching his eye, Steve nodded at Charles.

Steve felt reassured. In the past Steve had fretted over this type of email, back in the day before the awards. Since then, Steve understood Charles had one way of communicating, good or bad he was never anything other than brief. There was no room for additional use of words.

Starred on his electronic calendar was an event one week ahead. It marked Steves ten years service with the company. Within the first two years, Steve had been awarded regional sales rep, by year five; he had won international sales rep. His figures stacked up. The only thing that stood between Steve and his promotion was Charles. His time would come, five years he reckoned on. Sure, he had been offered various positions, with worldwide locations. The type of position most could only ever dream of, but he had chosen to decline. His wife, the sweet, kind yet viciously ambitious Poppy had received her own promotion and there was no chance that Steve would jeopardise her career. They were a partnership and that meant both at home and work they were equal.

Kicking Myself – No Way Out

2 Mar

I could kick myself. No seriously, sometimes the most obvious is staring you straight in the face and you just miss it completely!

That would be me these past few weeks.

So obviously the experience of No Way Out to date has not been that positive, the indecision, the lengthy contemplation…as a rule that normally kicks in at about 10,000 words, by which point I feel I am too far in to turn around.

However, I have said the progress would be recorded through this blog, so that means ups and downs, warts and all. The stupid decisions, the moments of elation, and hopefully the completion – although if I choose to walk away from it, then I shall have to explain that also.

believe me, I have been just wishing I could erase the past posts and forget it, even with the elation of last week that I had finally started writing.

But this whose point of view, finding the main storyline, choosing the angle, it has just been too much. Even with your support I have just not felt it clicking. I have found my distractions too easy to go with.

I was stupid.

We even discussed it within the comments.

It is a script, and even if it wasn’t, sub plots are required.

The script is started. I am writing both Steves and Poppys storylines side by side. Becky has been pushed to one side for now, but that’s fine. I have the answer. Simple wasn’t it?

I’m Not Being Lazy..

24 Feb

I get paranoid that I am not posting enough about No Way Out. I don’t want you to lose your enthusiasm for watching the project unfold, but likewise, I don’t want it to be all I post about. I also don’t want to have pressure to complete it.

I have pondered this thought for the past week, how do I approach this? Have I made a huge mistake? Is this why nobody has attempted this before? (Well maybe they have but I haven’t seen it).

The most basic of answers came to me. I started doing this to show how a project runs from start to finish. The only way I can show this is my way. And sometimes, my way, does involve long delays so how I blog will show this.

It’s not that I haven’t been working on it, it’s just that most of my working has happened in my head. working out, based on comments so far, how I will develop the story.

You see I sit down and post based on what I have thought should happen, and then you guys give me ideas that enhance this, and then I need my thinking time.

I am not the type to spend hours writing out streams of storylines. I keep it in my head. I tend to work on the basis that the best ideas develop further, without the need to record them. The best example is my script the lawns. That started as a dream (so cliché I know). I remember it well, July 2008.

That dream was developed into ten pages of script to be included in my first year creative writing portfolio. In January 2010, the script was fully completed in the form of a 90 minute one-off drama.

During that period I was obviously studying so was also adding other projects to my portfolios, as well as writing essays. I did not dedicate my all to that script, and I will not to No Way Out.

Thinking about how the Lawns developed provides some calm to my manic thoughts. It tells me that I am capable of managing various projects, deadlines, and most importantly thought processes.

I have attempted to write synopsis’ (I don’t know the plural for this, well I do,  just don’t know how you write it and I will admit to feeling particularly lazy right now and not having the inclination to google it). Following your lead, I wanted to complete several from different view points, gain a greater understanding of the characters, and thier motives. I know Steve’s, I haven;t written a synopsis for his viewpoint as I see the original short story as a sufficient starting place. therefore I have concentrated my efforts on Poppy. Well, to say it is hard is a understatement.

I don’t write chick lit. Sorry, correction. I have never written chick lit. This is proving to be a stumbling point, mostly because I have this thought gnawing at me that I am entering new territory and maybe I am not ready for that at this time. Or maybe, the truth is, that is not what I wanted this piece to be. But no matter what I do, the emotions, the understanding, the identity of the piece written with poppy as the focus just screams chick lit. The result? I just don’t know how to

So this was the Chick Lit display in Lacey Timberland Library in 2011. Perhaps it is not Chcik Lit that i am afraid of - just its perception.

end it.

My gut reaction is to end it with the police on the doorstop telling Poppy that Steve is dead. It just doesn’t feel final enough. I wanted closure for Steve, for the reader/viewer to know steve was not bad, to understand it was circumstance not madness that led him into that bank.

I will continue to play with this in my head and I shall get back to you. In the meantime, I just want you to know I haven’t abandoned, I am just plotting in my style.

Forget Planning, I’m Writing!

17 Feb

NO WAY OUT

I will be honest, I haven’t written the synopsis yet. I had hoped today I would be sharing two with you, gauging your reactions as to which we should go with. Gauging your reactions, maybe they should be combined, maybe they should both be scrapped?

Alternatively I had hoped I would be sharing some character bibles, and pics, I have several chosen. But no, I haven’t finished those either.

I have done something very naughty though. I have written the first scene. Perhaps not the first scene, but certainly the first scene in my head is down on paper.

This is naughty as I wanted to get the planning completed in full before I began, and this is supposed to be something we are doing together. But, well, oh…

This is the first piece of creative writing I have put down on the page since June. Can you believe it? I just couldn’t resist the pull. I had to do it. Now I have done one, I will do more, I want to be doing more, not blogging, but I am holding back. I am relishing the moment of getting started again. I don’t have another full scene fully mapped out at this moment, so there is no need to rush, no need to bite the bullet and throw myself in head first. I can just enjoy this.

(For those of you that don’t follow my continuous whining on Facebook I am recovering from flu so it is probably wise to pace myself  – she tells herself fully aware that the head is pounding again and the throat is feeling tight and she really should be in BED).

Anyway, I just wanted to share more my delight at writing again, at the want to really get started, not just that pondering of tomorrow I shall begin. For this I have to thank you all. The support in your comments for this challenge has pushed for this return.

 

Whose Point of View?

12 Feb

When I am thinking about No Way Out, in terms of its development in how it is told, I have phrases (yes they are already bubbling under the surface) that would not fit into traditional dialogue. So if working this into a script, how do I get around this?

Traditionally if we are writing a novel, we have the freedom to explore the thoughts and mind processes of our protagonist. Should we wish, we can make them completely open, no secrets, no lies, a soul laid bare.

I entered 'soul laid bare' in google images and this is what I got. i thought it was quite emotive.

When scripting, we are to determine the thoughts either through the dialogue, a verabl expression or action, but there is always the chance they are holding something back from the audience, just as we ourselves may choose to edit our conversation. It is the classic sting in the tale, what is the narrator not telling?

I have two paths I am considering right now in terms of how I write this script. One allows for me to explore the depth of what the reader knows, the other is more traditional in its approach.

Option A

I like the fact that the short story was told in reverse. Taking that, I am thinking that Steves story is told from the hospital bed, where he is in a coma. We can return to the hospital bed from time to time, where we will see visits primarily from Michael (the son) and Becky (the cashier). These will interrupt the flow of the story just enough to allow it to take a sharp turn in what part is being told rather than being about the visit.  Steve will be the narrator of his own story in a kind of Shawshank Redemption style (though obviously not with that finesse – I may be good (ha ha) but not that good!

Option B

The alternative is to tell the story from Poppys (wife) point of view. I think this potentially could take us on a completely different journey and have our expectations and emotions turned on their heads in relation to what we would feel with option A. This story would start from Poppy having the miscarriage, and would not necessarilly require a narrator. We wouldnt know Steves thought proceses, just the devastation of his actions to those that ‘love’ him.

To make a definitive decision, I need to confirm the key plotlines that are to feature. This may sound a little strange, after all, we already have the story, we are just making a short long. No we are not.

I could just take the story and fill in the blanks, but I dont think that would be much fun. I have already drawn the conclusion that for me, if writing is a slog, that is how the story reads. Hence why we are mixing this up, playing around considering various angles. So…

I am going to write a synopsis. Now I am not very good at these, and as I haven’t fully decided which perspective this story is to be told from, it could potentially be too long and unbearable to be worthwhile. I am thinking that I should write several. Obviously they would be the same in many aspects, but likewise they will be very different.

Before I begin however, I would really appreciate your thoughts. Have you ever been in this position before? You know, questioned the perspective of the story? Have you any tips for getting round this?

Key Questions to Plot Development

9 Feb

No Way Out – the Challenge is taking a short story and developing it into a one-off drama for TV (however as the project develops this may change). Having posted the short story here, questions have been raised as to the direction the story will take. Today I answer those questions, whilst raising more of my own. Please feel free to jump into the discussion and get involved in this challenge.

Skyler asked:

1.Becky’s backstory. Why is such a young, sweet girl working in a place that is so ‘businessy’? 2.Who is the man that Poppy is having an affair with. How did they meet and what led her to do such an awful thing?

Firstly, who said Becky is a sweet girl. Looks are deceiving you know. Perhaps Steve was up. We don’t know why he has such a personality change, how many people seriously go through from a normal hard-working dad to a bank robber?

Poppys’ affair, this is something that needs to be answered, but I have no idea. I am thinking maybe Steves’ brother. Steve has been sunk to the darkest place, so would the guy that poppy has an affair with bear an impact, or does it not matter, the result is just the same?

Gethin asked:

What country is it in?  The bank scene suggests America i.e. guns etc, but the CSA from the last scene suggests UK. The reverse plot is a bit weird, am I to understand that it may well go anywhere?

It is set in the UK. Reading back through I have pondered if it is a bit Americanised but I don’t think so, pretty certain if there was an armed bank robbery here they would send in the tactical units which would have guns.

The reverse plot was initially used to make the short more interesting. I felt if the story was told in a linear fashion it would be quite dull, namely because we wouldn’t care his wife cheated on him, because we didn’t care about him. The backwards timeline gives that sense og oh my, how what is now a common occurrence can drive someone so low. So yes, it could go anywhere, the question is, do we just expand on whats there, of find another story within it?

Jessica asked:

So, where do you think you’re going to focus on the timeline?  On the back-story of what led to Steve’s criminal activity or on the present (now that he’s been apparently shot)?

Ha, I just said that in response to Gethin, work with what we have or search for an alternative? I am still thinking this one out so your suggestions are welcome….

2.  You already gave the little boy quite the reader appeal, so are you going to continue to work him in as a character?

Michael will feature, but I am reluctant to place too much focus on him. I guess it depends what we decide the definitive timeline will be. I would like Michael to be the calming influence, the rational. However, he could well be the flip side of that, the part that makes you slightly manic in your desperation.

3.  In the back-story, you made Steve seem like a very sympathetic character.  Yet, we see through his thoughts with Becky that he has two emotional extremes:  desire for companionship and severe hate/vengeance.  Will we get to see how his psyche has undergone such a change from a caring, loving father to whiskey-drinking, vengeful criminal?

To answer this, I know I must remain grounded in my thoughts. His psyche has changed because of the ‘fall’ his life has taken. The question is, how hard has he fallen? Now I say I must stay grounded because it would be easy to get carried away and say we should introduce drugs etc to enhance his despair. I am thinking simpler than that, we could just say he took out a bad loan to keep buying michael the stuff steve feels he deserve, and maintaining a pretence. Bad loans in the Uk are big news at the moment so not actually at all far-fetched. Steve potentially could have robbed that bank because they were going to destroy him if he didn’t pay back the money.  Can we say that the desperation has led to the  vengeful bitterness whilst constant looking at what others have, what he once had, that makes him who he is today? Is that strong enough?

Trying to put my thoughts into some sort of order I have created the mind map below.

Not the greatest picture, sorry. Hopefully though you can see the process I am following.