Monday, February 22, 2010

The DWPFF Journey - Part 7

The last time we talked about the "Digital Webbing Presents - Future Fairy Tales" project, I mentioned that I'd sent another script to my editor, Chris Stevens. This script had an ending that consisted of a colleague of the father of the little boy in the story narrating the tale as a history lesson to a classroom of students, all with nanobot pets of their own. My idea for this was that once the nanobot mongoose saved the little boy, it was used as a template to revolutionize medical care. So all of the students needed to form a loving bond with their own nanobot pets as well, and the classroom scene was what I used to visualize it. I liked the idea of the relationship between the little boy and the nanobot changing things for the better, and I felt like the climax of the story was pretty good. I'd even heard positive things about the ending from Chris prior to writing it, as we'd brainstormed the idea together.

So I sent the script in, and I waited for Chris to get back to me. The addition of the classroom ending swelled the script back up to 12 pages. The first script, also 12 pages, had been sent on the 7th of November, and all the tweaks we'd made cutting it down to 8 pages and then eventually ramping it back up to 12 pages took around two weeks. By the time Chris had the latest script in hand, it was the 21st of November and it was getting to the point where we needed this to be done so we could find an artist to bring it to life. Chris got back to me the next day, and this is the email he sent...

I like this, Mike. Time to show it to artists!


That's it!? Yeah, that's right--because I'm the paranoid sort, I thought this was entirely too simple an email. The egotistical writer in me was thrilled that Chris liked the script, but something about the brevity of the email gave me pause. I knew Chris was busy, but it was an itch I just had to scratch. So I sent the following...

I'm glad you like it, Chris. I was actually expecting you to knock me down a peg or two, as I don't think it matches up at all to the scripts you and J-Rod put together.

J-Rod is another uber-talented writer/editor named Jason Rodriguez who was also contributing a story for the project, his based on Pinnochio, but talking about his and Chris' and some of the other entires out there is another post entirely. At any rate, I'd thrown down the gauntlet, and Chris - and I'll always be thankful to him for doing this - responded in kind.

If I was going to be tough I'd want more of a connection to the source material. But the script works, has a good heart, and to be honest, I need to get these scripts all out of the way. If it was September I'd be asking you to get more Rikki Tikki in there.

Okay, everybody... I want you to imagine for a moment that you're this massive blue whale. I'm talking about the undisputed king of the sea. Sharks see you, and they turn tailfin and run like little baby seals approached by a clubber. You're swimming out in the ocean having the time of your life, self-assured in the fact that you're the biggest, baddest mammal on the planet and nothing could possibly challenge you...

And then you're harpooned.

It was literally like a punch to the gut. Like a kick to the balls. The story, as I'd written it, worked. It did. It had a good heart. It was a heartfelt story that worked. I'm telling you it worked liked gangbusters. But it WASN'T RIKKI TIKKI TAVI! In my absolute and overwhelming desire to create this entertaining, clever story, I'd shuffled away from the essence of the original entertaining, clever story. I'd written a script that only connected to the original Rikki Tikki Tavi by including something that looked kind of similar to a mongoose. That was basically it. I knew, right there and then, that I couldn't let it end like this. So I emailed Chris, and I told him that I wished it was September. And he emailed me back and told me that if I could write another draft of the script in a day or two that he'd look it over, but that a day or two would be all the time I'd have because time was of the essence. Chris told me this on the 23rd of November, and by the 26th of November I had re-written the entire 12-page script. Was this the one? Had I finally accomplished what I'd set out to do from the very beginning, and written a proper ode to Rudyard Kipling's masterpiece? We'll discuss that next time!


  1. Great reading this stuff, Mike! And, yeah, Chris can be rather short with email response, eh? :)

  2. He can, yeah, but I don't blame him considering all he's got on his plate. And he did put me in touch with James, a fantastic editor, and I totally wasted that opportunity all on my own. This has been a real learning experience for me. Glad somebody out there is enjoying it! Ha!