Books!
Books!
And more books!
And more books!

I’ll admit it. I’m incapable of writing a proper beat sheet. Somewhere between an outline and the chronicled ramblings of someone with a reeeeally good idea, the beat sheet is a document that neatly sums up the significant scenes and developments in a given episode (or movie, as the case may be). The intent is not to entertain but to inform, to provide the reader with a story structure that charts the various steps the writer will follow from electrifying opening through spine-tingling progression to coccyx-numbing conclusion. Or, at the very least, prove that the writer is capable of forming proper sentences. But not always.

The problem I have when it comes to beat sheets is that they require a writer to envision how his or her story will break down and, what can I say, I have an overactive imagination – an imagination that won’t leave well enough alone. Nope. No broad stroke sense of a particular scene. Instead, I have to visualize it in all of its glory. Where are we? Who’s there? What do they do? What do they say? Are those seedless grapes she’s eating? I imagine each scene in great detail, like an angry mother-in-law reliving the memories of the awful day her sweet boy married that witch, running it over and over and over again in my mind’s eye. And then, at some point, I have to start writing things down and, knowing full well that it is a beat sheet I‘m working on, I try to keep it simple. Really I do. But all too often, once you’ve got a scene more or less worked out in your head, it becomes very tough to keep it short. Understand, this has nothing to do with being precious about my work or not wanting to kill my babies (that’s what the script stage is for) but rather emanates from a desire to paint the clearest picture possible. I don’t want the reader to have to question my character’s motivations (these should be obvious), makes suggestions for missing beats (they should all be there), or wonder what kind of grapes she is eating (Concord seedless).

As a result, my beat sheets aren’t beat sheets at all. They’re outlines, usually coming in at a robust 8-10 pages complete with scene headings, buttons, and the occasional gem of dialogue (“Who’s Hootie now?”). And the time it takes someone to respond, I’ve learned, is directly proportional to the length of the document. So, going on past experience, since I put out my beat sheet (actually, outline) for the first part of the Stargate: Universe mid-season two-parter yesterday morning, I expect to hear back no later than Spring of 2009.

Speaking out outlines, I switched gears today and worked on the Stargate: Atlantis movie outline, working my way toward the big finish (for the story and, if things work out the way I’m hoping they will…ah, I’ll save it for another entry). Then, I hopped into my car and braved this season’s first snowstorm (really more of a slushing that had everyone riding their brakes for most of the afternoon) to attend a goodbye party for my pal Jackie who works with our accountant, Al. As far as office parties go, this one was quite nice, a catered affair with tasty duck rolls, samosas, and sushi. In an effort to get me to mix with the other guests (being the notoriously shy wallflower that I am), Al to a heavyset man who was loitering near the cream cheese and cranberry pita rolls. “Joe, this is Paul,”he introduced us. “You’re both writers.” And then, satisfied, wandered off to the apple cider, leaving Paul and I to discuss our like professions.

“What do you write?”he asked.

“Scripts,”I replied. “I’m in television. You?”

“Corporate stories,”he informed me. Or, at least I thought I heard “Corporate stories”. It could well have been “coronate Tories”, “correlate lorries”, or “corrugate quarries” for all I knew about any of the aforementioned processes.

“Oh, yeah,”I said, boldly suggesting even a shred of understanding on my part. And then, in an impeccably smooth transition: “You dine out much?”

As it turned out, he did. And he was also a dog lover which gave us plenty to talk about beside our work (So, how exactly does one go about correlating lorries?).

On my way back to the car, I stopped by the bookstore and made my second big book purchase in as many days. I’m turning into the crazy cat lady except that instead of cats, it’s books, and instead of crazy it’s mildly eccentric, and instead of lady it’s a guy who likes the smell of the grass-scented soap his wife occasionally picks up from the spa. Then, I enjoyed a 45 minute drive back home in bumper to bumper traffic, the result of a snafu that darkened almost every traffic light in the downtown core. You know, it’s really too bad most Vancouverites never went to driving school or, at the very least, remembered the four-way stop procedure they were surely taught there.

Well, I’m going to call it an early night. My French bulldog Lulu has a notoriously weak stomach and ended up vomiting at 1:00, 4:15., and 9:05 this morning. I know because she was sleeping beside me at the time.

Finally – Hey, who noticed writer-executive producer Carl Binder’s cameo in tonight’s episode, Infection? If you missed it and bothered to record the episode, here’s a three-word hint: “Keller’s creepy uncle”.

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Tim Gaffney
Tim Gaffney

Identity…Wow! It was as great as I had hoped it would be. I liked how they used the Ancient communications device from SG1, a nice bit of continuity and a scientific explanation for Keller’s predicament. The guest actress did a great job, she was clearly an evil person, but at some points you did almost hope that she would get away. Since the ending is a bit unclear to her fate, I wonder if she would have resurfaced if there was a sixth season. I was sure going in that Neeva had intentionally used the device to either escape her situation or steal from Atlantis. It was a nice touch that all of this was an accident. I liked how she looked so lost walking around the city, but that she was crafty enough to be able to not get caught in a long conversation with someone. Although it doesn’t look good for the intelligence and saavy of our heroes that, even though they suspected she might be sick, they didn’t post a guard or force her to stay in the infirmary. The one tech looked especially stupid when Neeva asked where the Puddle Jumpers were. I wonder if Ronan knew she wasn’t Keller, he seemed to stare right through her in her quarters.
The only thing I would have liked to see is Keller’s perspective upon “awakening” in Neeva’s body. How she was caught and ended up in the cell. I liked how Keller tried to be the leader of her little pack of thieves, but of course she has little experience in criminal activity. I liked the idea of Neeva as Keller going to find herself. That must have been the strangest thing Keller ever saw. Neeva seems like the kind of person who is always one step ahead, it was nice to see her get taken down a notch.
Poor Dr. Z! First he gets attacked by a pair of plyers, then he gets absolutely no sympathy from Rodney. First he is only in a “mild” coma, then he is forced to be wheeled from the infirmary cursing so Rodney could be alone with Jennifer. The Radek whumpers must be thrilled.
I want to thank the writers of this episode for making it as good as I had hoped it would be. Hopefully I will not be the only one to feel this way. I can’t believe we have to wait three weeks for….Vegas!

Georgia
Georgia

grin
now to find a batcave..

http://dvice.com/archives/2008/12/shakespeare_bus.php

Shawna
Shawna

First snowstorm, eh? I went out to do my errands today in shorts, sandals and a t-shirt. What is wrong with this freaking city?! Doesn’t it understand the concept of WINTER? … Grr.

das —

Yeah, that’s the problem with getting rid of their feeding hand. It also eliminates the other option. Why do I feel like we’ve gone over this already?

You know what would have been awesome? An episode from the wraith’s point of view. Well, maybe the people who do the novels could explore that at some point, if nothing else.

ElisaD
ElisaD

Hi Joe,

Hey I saw Carl Binder’s picture! I cracked up laughing when I saw him!! That was great!

Enjoyed “Identity”! So good to see Beckett!

Just to, I don’t know, brag maybe, but today’s weather here in South Texas….sunny and 75! smile

Randomness
Randomness

Good luck with the Atlantis movie and other things, sounding like 2009 will be a great year to be a Stargate fan, granted the loss of season 6 of Atlantis was devastating. But 2 movies and a new series is something worth waiting for..

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

Hello Mr. M.

Thanks for the insight into your ever expanding mind! It was fun to read about the details of a writer’s process!

I hope Lulu is feeling better soon! Give her the yellow ducky; having a good chew always makes me feel better!

Cheers
Patricia Lee

joesmom
joesmom

Please don’t put Keller in the SGA movie. After “Identity” I’ve had about enough of her. That executioner’s axe should have moved a wee bit faster.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

“…worked on the Stargate: Atlantis movie outline, working my way toward the big finish (for the story and, if things work out the way I’m hoping they will…ah, I’ll save it for another entry)…”

I hate you. mad

You know what those kinds of statements do to us sensitive Wraithy sorts!!

“I don’t want the reader to have to question my character’s motivations (these should be obvious)…”

Sometimes it isn’t, though… *cough*BrokenTies*cough* wink Hmmm. Maybe that’s because – while trying to look at the story from every angle – you sometimes fail to look at it from the Wraith POV …I mean, really look at it beyond the ‘they’re the bad guys, so they do bad things’ angle. It’s not just you – it’s noticable in the others, too. I think Alan has the best grasp on Wraith POV, but even he’s not perfect. (I know! Unbelievable, right??!)

wink

das

wolfenm

Uncle? I thought he was supposed to be her *dad*. XD

And YOU GUYS SCARED THE CRAP OUTTA ME!!! I was scrambling my brain, trying to remember if David Nykl had said anything to me at Dragon*Con that would give me a clue as to the outcome ….

All in all, not bad, not bad. Not a fave, but I liked it well enough. Something about the atmosphere of it felt wierd, even at the end, but I can’t put my finger on what it was ….

I liked the chemistry between Rodney and the thief sooooo much better than McKeller, even if she was weevil. *Loved* the ‘jumper scene. And that’s all I’ll say here on that matter (unless provoked *wink*) so you can relax now. *grin*

Was a little bummed that the chocolates didn’t turn out to be for “Zippy” instead of Keller. Would have been funny and sweet – I like the idea of him doing something sweet on his own rather than prompted by someone else. I mean, he has been known to do that on occasion ….

Nice to see Carson again. smile

I am confused about the stiones. How many different ways do they work, and what factors determine whow they do? Joe and O’Niell could see out of each other’s eyes without even the intervention of the device (I assume because of the gene?), but when Daniel and Vala entered those Ori villager’s bodies, the villager’s minds stayed dormant in their own bodies, and dying in the villager’s bodies killed their own bodies as well. So does it depend on where it’s placed in the device? ….

The preview for “Vegas” (which I confess I had misgivings about before) had me positively *drooling*. Oh Gaia, please let it be as awesomely McSheppy as it seems it will be ….

t'loc
t'loc

mr m. i believe u mean Identity and not Infection. Infection was last episode.

kath
kath

Ohhhhhhhhh…Midwich Cuckoos! Children of the Dammed is a favorite movie of mine. Not a great movie, but kind of B-movie fun. The Scalzi is good, too, although I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.

~kath

Funcokler Xerow
Funcokler Xerow

I’m pretty sure tonight’s episode was called Identity.

Alex
Alex

Hey Joe,

As always, I greatly enjoy reading your blog. I was glad to hear that you had a great time on your recent trip!

I just sent you an email (with a quick update), and wanted to be sure you got it.

Alex

quade1
quade1

vancouverites are great drivers. it’s the people who aren’t good drivers, so for their safety, they buy big SUVs which makes them even worse drivers……you know exactly what i’m talking about.

i saw the hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse at chapters and was thinking about getting it, lemme know how it is

Rosehawk
Rosehawk

It was kind of fun seeing Carl in the picture with Keller! I wasn’t expecting it and kind of jumped, like I recognize that face type jump!

Was he really uncle or Dad??

Arctic Goddess

Hi Joe:

Carl creepy? C’mon!

Patricia (AG)

Christin

I can’t even find the pineapple when I know I should be looking for it. How am I supposed to find Carl when I don’t know I should be looking for him?

I’m much better with Where’s Waldo.

AU please
AU please

I keep hoping I’ll wake up in an Alternate Universe where there is no Mckeller… darn it, but Identity dashed that dream.
Oh well, Looking forward to Vegas, it looks amazing!
I love Zelenka.

AU please
AU please

PS – Carl is playing McKay?

Kelly

LOVED seeing Carl! He was not creepy at all, and you may tell him so.

Davidd
Davidd

Hey Joe.

You think the weather in Vancouver is bad, here in northern Alberta we have 2 feet of snow and a temperature os -30c! Now this is a snowstorm!

thornyrose
thornyrose

Thanks for the confirmation on Mr. Binder’s appearance in identity. But if I were him, I’d be worrying. First the auditorium named after him, now he’s a relative of Jennifer Keller? Is this some way of avoiding paying him some bonus or extra residuals he’s entitled to?
Nice selection of books there. I’ve particularly fond of Guards!Guards!, having seen the play version of the book, with Paul Darrow as Captain Vimes. I liked it so much I ended up laying out a small fortune to get an autographed wall poster from the play custom framed. Only to realize I don’t have a wall in the house big enough, or strong enough, to hang it from…
Identity was…interesting. On first viewing, it’s not one of my favorites. But there are a lot of elements I enjoyed about the episode, so it will take a re-viewing or three for me to figure out exactly what it is that keeps me from raving over it. The opening teaser was gut wrenching in more than one way, and I feared for Zelinka’s chances of appearing in the movie for a time. Lots of nice little moments, especially with the McKeller shipping. Hey, in 15 years of Stargate it’s nice to see one primary character enter into what looks to be a sane relationship. I also enjoyed threads with th Coalition being mentioned, and the glimpse into how it’s pulling together.
Here’s hoping Lulu will settle down. Or that she quits trying to share her already eaten meals with you.

jedi43
jedi43

Spotted Carl right away.

Question where was the pineapple hidden in this episode?

Jedi

littlemckay

Looking into my crystal ball, I foresee another heated McKeller hate session vast approaching on all SG fronts lol.

I liked Identity; I thought it was played out pretty well for a fairly common sci-fi story setup. I was admittedly a bit worried about poor Zelenka! It is the last season and all!

What a cute ending, I loved it! I like how McKay is growing in the relationship, willing to do something that he believes Keller would like, even though it may not be 100% what he likes. She did go with him to a science event so I guess it’s fair! I love how he’s more himself around Keller, so much so that Keller sees through him when he suggests the puddle jumper ride and he gets sheepish thinking he’s done something wrong. However, we know that he’s done something right, it’s just that Keller wasn’t expecting it. Looks like our boy IS a fast learner after all :-).

As it turns out, from experience, I’ve found that a lot of my writer friends tend to like or own dogs over cats and prefer eating out or at least ordering in. It all means less time wasted in cooking and by eating out it means complete escape from work rather than being at home; close to a laptop; having a revelation; 15 minutes later remembering that you were in the middle of eating; discovering your food is gone and was enjoyed by your beloved dog; realising that if you owned a cat they would have turned their nose up at your pitiful/rushed/half-assed cooking… Before you know it, it’s 11pm and you’re eating biscuits instead of real food and planning to go to the gym to make up for it, but you know deep down that’s a lie!

Man, I love being a writer! :-P.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ Shawna – Okay…I’m starting to believe in telepathy…

What are the odds we both would have mentioned Wraith POV at the same time – before either of our posts were approved???! EEEEEEEERRIE!!!!

But I agree – it would have been great to truly see a Wraith POV ep…The Queen was close, but not enough. No offense to the writers, but I really don’t think they want to see it from the Wraith POV, especially since – despite the glaring injustices against the Wraith – they are still portrayed as the malevolent overlords, when they’re more like unruly teenagers. Okay – unruly, life-sucking teenagers, but still…

And now I’m faced with a new dilemma. As someone pointed out elsewhere – Sheppard refers to Todd as their best ally ‘against the Wraith’. So…great. I love Todd…and I love the Wraith…but slowly the show is moving Todd away from the Wraith, and putting him at odds with his own kind. Now – that’s FINE if Todd remains in control of a faction of Wraith followers – a dozen hives or so. But if Todd ends up being the only Wraith agreeable to work with humans, while the rest resist – then I’ll be totally torn between my love for Todd and a desire to see him succeed, and my love for the Wraith and a desire to see them survive. It’s sheer torture!

Ugh. There has to be some positive middle ground for Wraith fans like me who love the species as a whole and not just the individuals. I know one won’t be found in the series (no time), and not sure from Joe’s little hints about the movie that I should hold out any hope there. I know it’s stupid, and it’s only a tv show about fictional characters…but I am just such a sucker for happy endings, especially in this day and age.

das