Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dramatica tips and tricks

A Q & A brainstorm with James Collins and Jack Rousseau - Jack answering my questions:

I don’t want to give too much away as I want you to read the first draft when done without being forewarned, but what would you put in here?
Without giving too much away, the overall problem is to do with, let’s say, the release of an evil presence in a town/environment. ‘Something bad gets out and needs to be sent back to where it came from’ kind of story.

I’ve got a set for the MC of:
Problem: Nonacceptance
Solution: Acceptance
Symptom: Evaluation
Response: Re-evaluation

And for the OS
Problem: Nonacceptance
Solution: Acceptance
Symptom: Deduction
Response: Induction

The PROBLEM and the SOLUTION are basically Overall Story Throughline elements. Whatever "word" Dramatica comes up with to describe the Overall Story Problem is the general essence of what is wrong or out of kilter, the thing that gives the overall characters their mission to solve.

And the Solution of course is the real answer to the problem - what actually needs to be done to solve the problem.

So first of all, you must consider PROBLEM / SOLUTION in the context of the Overall Story.

Now, the MAIN CHARACTER PROBLEM will be exactly the same. It's because the MAIN CHARACTER has this same PROBLEM in his throughline that he is the Main Character. So his Problem and his Solution will be closely connected to the Overall Story Problem and Solution.

This means that the PROBLEM will always be something that is wrong between the Main Character and his Environment. I say "between" because it's something the Main Character uniquely needs to sort out, and the Problem will be some kind of imbalance between the Main Character and the environment.

To give some simple examples, if the dam is about to burst, the Main Character's problem is either to stop the dam bursting, or to rescue all the people and/or things threatened by it. But that's where the Problem lies OUTSIDE the Main Character. But if the Main Character is making everyone's lives a misery because he can't get over the death of his wife, then he needs to solve something within himself and move on. The PROBLEM lies inside, but the effect is on the environment around him.

The Overall Characters can see the Problem and the Solution OBJECTIVELY because they are not the Main Character. They can see the MC needs to realise he has to act to save the dam. They can see he's the only person that can do it. Or they can see the MC needs to get over his wife's death and marry again.

But the Main Character cannot see this. He only has a SUBJECTIVE VIEW of the Problem. He will not be able to see the REAL PROBLEM and the REAL SOLUTION straight away - otherwise we'll have no story. He can't see he needs to fix the dam or rescue the people. He can't see he needs to marry and move on.

Instead, the Main Character focuses on SYMPTOM and RESPONSE. These are his take on the problem and Solution. >From his Subjective view. The Symptom is what the MC thinks is wrong. But it's not the Objective view. He's not correct in his assessment. The RESPONSE is what he thinks, Subjectively, is the right Solution. But it's not. By initially going for the Response, he draws out the story. He will finally come to realise that he needs to recognise the PROBLEM (rather than the SYMPTOM) and he needs to apply the SOLUTION (and not the RESPONSE).

That is his journey of discovery, if you like, his arc of character - moving from SYMPTOM/RESPONSE to PROBLEM/SOLUTION. And when the Main Character converges on the Problem/Solution, he brings the story to its climax and end.

Now I realise that still sounds all rather technical. But you need to consider all that in the context of the WORDS that Dramatica comes up with for the four things: Problem/Solution and Symptom/Response and then see how that inspires you in the context of your story.

The Overall Characters can be equally confused from their subjective perspective. They won't necessarily know what the real problem and solution are - although they might. But the Overall characters are quite likely to see that the MC is trying to treat the Symptom where he should be treating the Problem. And the Impact Character will see that especially. Which then becomes the focus for his Impact. The Impact Character will be trying to get the MC to realise the mistake (in a story where the Impact Character has the right answer = that is, a CHANGE story).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Saddling – Treatment

The Saddling – Treatment, now posted on InkTip

James Collins

WGA registration: 1521871

Logline: A young genealogist uncovers human sacrifice while struggling to solve a family mystery in the village of his ancestors.

Key characters:

Tom Carey, (MC/Protagonist) slightly overweight, early 20’s, obsessed with his family tree to the point of losing his girlfriend. Reliant on facts, technology, computers and one of the new ‘Facebook generation,’ not adept at face to face socialisation. From London.

William Blacklocks, (Antagonist) the village elder of Saddling, 60’s. Tall, gaunt, powerful and manipulative.

Dan Vye, (Impact character) 18, smooth faced, ethereal young man, son of the pub landlady in the village of Saddling. Distant, a dreamer, has been brought up knowing that he may die before he is 20.

Barry Cole, (Sidekick) 19, another village boy brought up under the shadow of possible death. He’s down to hearth, humorous, desperate for a different life.

Brief synopsis:
Act one: To inherit his dying aunt’s money, Tom Carey must unlock an old family mystery in the remote village of Saddling, in the Romney Marsh. There he is unwelcome and treated with suspicion, but this only drives him harder and he is determined not to be put off his task by the backward, superstitious villagers who are hiding something.

Act two:  The village elder, the much feared William Blacklocks, guards the parish registers that Tom needs to see, and stands between Tom and the clues to his mystery. While trying to get to these books, Tom befriends two of the village boys, Dan and Barry, both of whom are living under some kind of threat. Tom learns of the annual winter solstice ritual of ‘The Saddling’ which has been held in the village for hundreds of years. This solstice day Dan is chosen as the Saddling Prince. Tom struggles but acquires the books and in them discovers that the solstice ritual involves a human sacrifice. Not only that but it was his ancestors who originated the ritual. And Dan is chosen to be the next victim.

Act three:  Tom is inclined to run as a storm starts and floodwaters rise, threatening the village. Dan is prepared for sacrifice, anyone Tom turns to for help has been killed, and only he can save Dan. He is tricked into becoming the sacrifice, but manages to escape. He inherits his money and opts to stay in Saddling where his ancestors originated.


Prologue: In 1292 the south coast of England is ravaged by a storm. Floodwaters take whole villages. In the small village of Saddling the cleric, Roberte Di Kari, accidentally kills a teenage boy, John Blacklocks, and immediately the storm abates; the village is saved.

Act one: In the present day Dan Cary, an out of work, scruffy, 20-something, ignores a TV news headline about two Iranian teens being stoned to death for being gay, and works on his family tree. He is obsessed to the point that he has lost his job, and now his girlfriend. Tom needs to know who he is, he’s lost and doesn’t know what direction his life is taking him. He relies on Facebook for social interaction, and his PC for everything else.

Tom’s aunt Maud has charged Tom with solving an old family mystery: why did their ancestors leave Saddling, a village in Romney Marsh, one hundred years ago? She will leave her fortune to Tom if he solves the mystery before she dies. She does not have long to live. Tom’s hacker friend Dylan helps him discover that the Saddling parish books are still kept in the village. Tom must go and see them.

On Romney Marsh, a youth, Dan Vye, cuts a lonely figure against the broad, flat landscape He sees crows wheeling and runs, terrified of them.

Somewhere on the marsh, Tom finally reaches the boundary ditch that circles the village. He is reluctant to cross the small bridge at first as he has a fear of drowning. He is being watched by a tall man with piercing eyes, William Blacklocks.

In the pub, ‘The Crow and Whiteback’, Susan Vye the landlady is reluctant to give Tom a room. A teenager, Barry, tells her she must and she agrees immediately. Tom is given a basic, sparse room looking out towards the village green, church and circle of houses.

Village women hang winter flowers in wreaths on their doors. Four houses have candles burning in their windows, the rest have drawn curtains.

Tom is finding the pub quaint if a little backward, there are no sockets for his chargers. The villagers are wary of him being there ‘at this time of year.’ Tom tries to engage them in talk of his ancestors who were from Saddling, but no one is keen to be drawn in.

In the church crypt, Blacklocks is using Matt Cole to spy on Tom. Tom is after the village register book, and Blacklocks will use that to keep him here until after ‘The Saddling.’

Upstairs at the pub, Tom hears someone crying in the room next to his.

The next day, Tom starts to look around the village and finds the church locked. As the low winter sun creeps up, he meets Dan. Tom remarks on how beautiful the marsh is but Dan tells him it is deadly. He also suggests he visit Eliza if he wants answers.

In the crypt, Blacklocks is now working through the old books. He notes that in 1912 a Thomas Carey was ‘chosen’ but left, ‘unfulfilled.’

Tom pays a call on a blind woman, Eliza, who lives outside of the village. She is expecting him. She asks him what he is really searching for, it is something more than his ancestors. She says he must have faith without proof sometimes, not everything is to be found in books. She doesn’t answer his questions but gives him a small pouch of flour and tells him to look to his name.

Tom arrives at the bridge to find his bags unceremoniously ejected from the village and his laptop smashed.

Dan and Barry are in the churchyard watching the crows. They swear to look out for each other if they are ‘chosen’ and agree that things have to be changed.

Tom returns to the village furious and considers abandoning his search. Downstairs, Blacklocks is angry with Susan for going easy on Tom. ‘The harder we make it, the more he will want to stay.’

As Tom is leaving he encounters Blacklocks who tells him that he has located the books Tom wants. Tom’s obsession overrides his thoughts on leaving. He decides to stay.

Act two A: Back in London: Dylan gets a call from Tom’s aunt. Her time is running out, Tom must hurry. Dylan tries to contact Tom, but can’t. But he notices some patterns in the dates in Tom’s research.

William Blacklocks’ grandson, Mark, a teenager, is angry that Tom is not showing the correct respect to him during ‘Penit.’ Tom is confused, Barry wants to help him but can’t. William Blacklocks discusses village superstition with Tom, tells him of their festival to be held tomorrow, invites Tom to stay for it. It only happens once every ten tears. They discuss how both their ancestry stretches back a long way in Saddling. But Tom then learns that the village books are not here after all. The village is liable to flood at this time of year so they have been sent away for safety. Tom is suspicious.

In the graveyard, Matt Cole scatters sheep pellets to attract the animals to graze. Tom notices there are many graves for teenage boys. Matt tells him he shouldn’t be here at this time, ‘not with a name like yours.’

Matt tells Blacklocks that he is concerned that they are ‘playing with the ritual.’

Tom has to return ‘to the stone age’ when his palm pilot dies and he has to use pencil and paper for his notes. Villagers are giving Tom a wide berth. But Dan befriends Tom and explains more about the village and their antiquated way of life. It is what he is used to, it works for the village. This is how it is and even the teenagers accept it.

But Matt Cole is very worried about something and is preparing to run away with his wife and son, Barry.

Tom uses Eliza’s flour to bring out writing on tombstones. He finds some of his ancestors’ dates and names and starts making notes.

On the eve of ‘The Saddling’ the men gather in the pub, they discuss how the festival must go ahead ‘for the sake of everyone’ even though some grow more against it each time.

Susan tells Tom to leave her boy, Dan, alone. She has seen them talking, she doesn’t want Tom’s ‘out-marsh’ ways to influence Dan.

Downstairs in the pub, Matt tells Tom that the books he wants are in the church crypt after all. He also warns Tom off his search, saying Blacklocks blinded Eliza for delving in the past. But this is just conjecture and Tom only deals in facts. Barry tries to tell Tom to go home but when Tom refuses, Barry admires him even more.

At dusk, Tom meets Dan out on the marsh. Dan has never left the marsh, he doesn’t know what it’s like beyond the boundary. Tom feels crushed by this, feels sorry for the boy.

At night, Mark Blacklocks scatters sheep pellets outside his house. Inside the Cole’s house the village women gather to sing laments, crying, while four mothers hold hands around candles. Tom works through his research in his room as thunder starts to roll in.

But the next morning dawns bright and cheery, though the skies are threatening. The village prepares for ‘The Saddling.’ The village green plays host to music, dancing, stalls and a gathering of all villagers. Tom watches and finds it quaint. He takes a risk and steals into the church, finds the crypt. He is looking for the books when Blacklocks nearly discovers him, but a scream from outside draws him away.

The village green is mayhem: sheep run everywhere, villagers yell and laugh, call them over. It’s a good thing for sheep to graze on your lawn; they graze at the Blacklocks house, and the Coles, and the other house with the candle burning, but there are none at the pub, and the pub has crows on the roof. Susan is distraught. The crows and ‘whitebacks’ have chosen Dan for ‘The Saddling.’ Dan is stunned, Eliza is there, shocked, and Barry silently begs Tom to help.

Act Two B: Dylan arrives in New Romney, and finds the vicar at the church. The vicar refuses to give him directions to Saddling, he begs Dylan not to go onto the marsh today.

The festival on the green is over and the rest of the day is spent in reflection as the village prepares for a church service in the evening. Tom wants to know what’s just happened but Blacklocks only says that the village is happy. Dan has been chosen, it is an honour.

The men are celebrating in the pub where Susan is still distraught. Upstairs, Tom looks at Dan’s diary and sees no notes or appointments planned beyond this day.

Out at the bridge, Blacklocks paces, waiting, he sees a car approach, he smiles.

As the weather closes in, Tom tries to talk with Dan, but Dan is lost, confused, he can’t take it in. He argues with Tom, a clash of the Saddling traditions verses the modern world ‘out there.’ Tom slips into a ditch, his worst nightmare. He scrambles out but Dan has run off. Tom goes to see Eliza for some answers.

In her shack, Eliza is expecting someone when the door opens.

Tom gingerly runs across the Saddling bridge, it creaks and the water level is higher.

In his stationary car, Dylan looks through Dan’s research on a laptop, and in his family bible. He realises something shocking. He drives off through the gathering storm, the radio gives out a flood warning.

Tom finds Liza’s shack empty, the place is a mess. He heads back to the village. The planked bridge is being washed away and he has to jump half of it to get across.

Dylan drives past Tom’s car, parked up in a layby. No sign of him there.

Tom tries to find more clues from headstones in the graveyard; he is on to something. He goes to the Blacklocks house but is told that William is not there.

Barry and his father have slipped away from the festivities at the pub. Tom meets Barry and tells him it is now imperative that Tom sees the books in the locked church. Barry knows a way they can get inside.

William Blacklocks was at home, he is talking to a young, suited man, Philip, and someone we can’t see, about how he has ways to take care of Barry.

Out on the marsh a ditch wall bursts and the ditches start to flood.

Barry and Tom creep through the back of the pub and into the cellar.

Dylan is at the bridge, soaked, exhausted and half the bridge has been washed away. He jumps for it but the bridge collapses under him. He is in the water when the planks of the bridge hit him and Eliza’s body floats past, dragging him away and under the water.

Barry and Tom head into the old smugglers’ tunnel that runs from the pub to the crypt. There is water under their feet. They reach the crypt and find the books. But when they come back to the tunnel the water has risen higher. This really is Tom’s worst nightmare. They fight through the rising water until it is up to their chins and they are about to be swallowed, but they reach the pub cellar and Tom climbs out. But Barry is not with him. Tom has no choice but to dive back in and save Barry. Barry is saved, can’t believe Tom did that, and Tom tells him that a man must do what he knows is right, for his friends.

Later that evening, at Barry’s house, Tom is dried and dressed in clothes borrowed from Matt Cole. He looks like a Saddling villager now. While he is dressing, Barry is looking at the books for him and finds a journal note about how most of the Carey family fled in 1912. Barry assumes from the storms. Dan arrives to give Barry a parting gift.

Tom is back in his room with the books, devouring their information when he sees the villagers heading for the church. He discovers a pattern of dates in the book and realises that a village teenage boy dies every ten years on the same date; winter solstice. Tonight. Dan appears and says goodbye to him, but Tom is so obsessed with this new research that he doesn’t hear Dan’s words: ‘The thing that The Saddling teaches us is that it’s wrong to love. You can’t. The one you love might be chosen.’ Tom finally realises the horrible truth that it was his ancestor Di Kari that started this ritual and that since then a human sacrifice has been made every 10 years to keep the flooding at bay. And in 1912 his ancestors fled the village to avoid being victims; they were cowards. And worse than that, Dan is to be this night’s sacrifice. But Dan has left and Tom has been locked in.

Act three: Dan is outside the church with the villagers who chant, ‘For Saddling.’ Tom can see this from his room but he can’t do anything about it. He is stuck and all he has are his notes and research, papers, books all useless now. But Susan lets him out, tells him to run for it, go get out of the village. Tom, dazed and panicked, does as he is told.

In the church Blacklocks begins the ceremony. he realises that the Cole family are missing and sends some of his henchmen out to look.

Tom thinks off all those dead boys as he staggers away into the storm, he can’t believe it is all his ancestors’ fault. He is the last one, he is the only one to blame for this. He stumbles into Barry and his family escaping, and Matt Cole tells Tom what Blacklocks wants: he wants Tom to go willingly in Dan’s place, as the sacrifice, then the tradition can be ended. The debt would be paid; the last Carey in return for the original John Blacklocks. Someone must put an end to this ritual, and Tom is the only one who can. Will he give up his life for all those future victims?

Dan is on the altar, a girl sings the final lament. Tom races to the church. It’s locked. He must use the flooded tunnel. He runs through the graveyard and falls into a fresh, open grave.

Tom escapes the grave and runs to the pub, then through the tunnel and into the crypt. He bursts in on the ceremony’s climax. In a showdown with Blacklocks, Tom’s beliefs are called into question; what’s worse, following a religion like that of Saddling or the religion of the internet, being a slave to computers, phones, technology? It’s facts verses faith time and Tom knows that killing Dan will not stop the storm. But how can he be sure? It’s worked for hundreds of years.

The Cole’s are dragged back, the flood has started and the waters are rising outside.

His aunt Maud unexpectedly appears with Philip, her lawyer. She and Blacklocks together laid this trap so that Tom would go to the altar and the ritual would be stopped for good. Tom must do what is right by his family, and friends. Tom has to decide if he will die to save Dan and stop the slaughter of innocent boys. He has a chance to change Saddling, but it means having faith that his death will make a difference.

Tom gives himself up but, on the point of being killed, he gets free. His friendship with Barry and Dan works in his favour as hey help Tom fight the villagers who are trying to kill Tom. In the struggle, Dan accidentally kills Mark, the last generation of Blacklocks and the raging storm abates immediately. Mark tried to cheat ‘The Saddling’ but was sacrificed anyway.

William Blacklocks is last seen carrying his dead grandson out into the marsh, disappearing into the mist. Because Tom was willing to give up his life for family honour, his aunt agrees to leave him her money.

The following spring, the village is transforming, they are getting a phone line, and electricity. And Tom has decided to stay in Saddling. But has he stopped the flood? They won’t know for another ten years.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quendon, Essex, Collin

Quendon Collins

Quendon, a village and a parish in Essex, adjacent to the river Stort and the London and Cambridge railway, 3 miles N by W of Elsenham station, and 2 S from Newport station, both on the G.E.R., and 6 S by W of Saffron Walden. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office under Newport (S.O.) Acreage of parish, 657; population, 171. There is a reading-room in the village. Quendon Hall, a mansion of brick standing in a pleasant deer park, is a seat of the Byng family, who are lords of the manor and chief landowners. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St Albans; net value, £124 with residence. The church was rebuilt in 1861, and is a small building of flint, stone, and rubble in the Early English style. 

QUENDON, a small village on the London and Newmarket road, near the North-Eastern Railway, 2 miles South of Newport Station, and 6½ miles North North East of Bishop Stortford, has in its parish 213 souls, and 643 acres of land, mostly belonging to Mrs. Ann Cranmer, the lady of the manor, who resides at the Hall, a large and handsome mansion of brick and stone, in the Elizabethan style, with a large park, stocked with deer and well-wooded.

At the Domesday Survey, the manor belonged to Eudo Dapifer, and it afterwards passed to the noble families of Mandeville, Bohun, and Stafford. In 1520, it had become the property of Thomas Newman, who built the Hall, which was re-built in the 17th century by John Turner, Esq., who enclosed the park. It was sold during the last century to Henry Cranmer, Esq., from whom it descended to the late James Powell Cranmer, Esq.

The Church is a small tiled building, and the rectory, valued in K. B. at £9, and in 1831 at £165, is in the patronage of Mrs. Cranmer, and incumbency of the Rev. John Collin, sen., M.A., who has a good residence, and 53A. of glebe. The tithes were commuted in 1839 for £150 per annum.

Year:  1744 Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSupplied Surname:  HARVEY Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSurname:  HARVEY Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifFull First name:  Sara Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSupplied First Name:  Sara Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSpouse Surname:  COLLINS Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSpouse Full First name:  William Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifSpouse First Name:  Wm Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifPlace:  SAFFRON WALDEN Description: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/images/spacer.gifCounty:  Essex

1800    Birth                Joseph T Collin (from 1841 census, Saffron Walden, aged 41)
1802    Vicar               John Collin starts as vicar of Quendon
1802    Register           (1735 – 1812) At front: list of rectors and patrons, ante 1324-1897; note of purchase of register at a cost of 15s. 6d., December 1735; note written by Revd. John Collin 'When I came to this Living [1802] I found it so very small' that he successfully applied for an augmentation and Land Tax worth £7 12s. was redeemed
1804    Birth                Joseph T Collin (from 1861 census Saffron, age 57)
1806    Bapt                John Collin bapt. Son of John and Anne
1807    Birth                John Collin (From 1861 census, Rickling, age 54) And in 1881 census is living in Rickling, and is 74, head of household, married, Vicar JP Collin, and he is blind.
1811    Birth                John Collin (from 1841 census, Quendon, aged 30)
1817    Marriage          Charles Collin and Jane Baxter, 17th AUgust
1817    Bapt                28th December Elizabeth bapt. Daughter of Charles and Jane
1829    Bapt                Kitty daughter bapt. Charles and Jane

1836    Burial              May, burial, Joseph Collin (FS)
1838    Marriage          Marianne Collin and George Robert Tuck, 26th June
1841    Census             Joseph Collin, born 1811, age 30
            Census             John Collin born 1776, age 65
            Census             Anne Collin born 1781 age 60

            Census             The Rectory, Quendon:
                                    John Collin, Clerk 65
                                    Ann Collin 60
                                    John Collin Jnr, Clerk, 30
                                    Joseph Collin attorney at law, 30

1841    White’s directory        Rev. John Collin, sen. M.A., rector of Quendon, and rural dean of Newport
1851    Census             Joseph T Collin, age 41, born 1810
1861    Census             Joseph T Collin aged 57 born 1804
            Census             John Collin, 85 (born 1776 in Saffron Walden) head
                                    Anne Collin 84 (born 1777 Duxford, Cambs) wife
1866    Burial              Anne Collin, 5th May
1866    Burial              Joseph Collin, 21st May
1881    Sale                 FRANKLIN AND SON, AUCTIONEERS AND ESTATE AGENTS OF THAXTED, BISHOPS STORTFORD AND SAFFRON WALDEN. 1881 Sale catalogue: Cottage and garden and WHEELWRIGHT's shop and garden, QUENDON, belonging to the late Capt. Byng. Alfred Savill, auctioneer.