B-flat, 'bout it 'bout it

Like so many others, for a long while there I was doing very little but darkly dreaming Dexter. I spent the requisite time swimming repeatedly in the episodes, soaking in the voice, reconstructing outlines of produced episodes, breaking down the stories, brainstorming, listening to the soundtrack…

And finally I found the seemingly impossible elbow room in Season 2 in which I could deposit a new story. I started to see what I wanted the story to be about. I played Writers’-Room-of-One. I played loose with my dance card, bouncing from muddle to clarity and back again.

And before I knew it, I had myself an outline. And for two days or so, it was good. Shiny and complete-looking and surprising. But I had the Trusted Few read it, and some special guest stars who were kind enough to give me notes – and the cracks started to show.

Which is good. I like to deal with as many big problems as I can in the outline stage, because I like to go into that first draft knowing that I can relax a little, that I'm able to put all my focus onto the wordplay, the dialogue, the execution.

But somewhere along the line, my theme got muddled. Some other theme-ish tidbits sneaked in and claimed space without my realizing it. They're connected to my original theme, but it's messy now. I need to refocus what this spec is about. I don't understand how what my episode is 'about' always seems to shift around on me when I shift from breaking a story to outlining. And then I always have to refocus. What is that?

The real problem, though, is my damn B story again. I’ve been struggling with that one since the inception of this whole spec-ling. My B story is built on Deb, continuing to ratchet up the pressure on Dexter with the Bay Harbor Butcher case, while a nice little undercurrent of her own problems kept things moving for her.

And while I still like the undercurrent, it’s the BHB bit that just isn’t cutting it. At all. It’s not dangerous enough for Dexter, it’s not adding heat to the script’s boiler room, and it’s just not interesting enough. It’s easy enough to tell, because every time I look over the outline I can feel how I’m just not excited to write those scenes. They’re just links to the other beats I’m excited to flesh out. And they’re not spawning new ideas. Even weak ideas that I like tend to spawn other ones, and it all works itself out.

But these fuckers are flat. It’s not cutting it. And so I’m back to the drawing board. Back to my original problem. What to do with Deb and the BHB case that will facilitate the Deb/Dex workplace tension? What will be new, interesting, and will work as a button for the script, pulling the reader down each page along with the A story? What will twist the knife?


ps. *crickets*

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