What better tool for an epic writing project than a database? That’s today’s theme. Ideas about a story are collected, marked up with categories and tags, and linked. Iterations of an idea are more easily found, no longer that uneasy feeling that I’m rediscovering / reinventing past epiphanies.

One of the objectives of launching the local blog was to serve as a catalog and reference for all material pertaining to DOG. I knew that Inspiration wasn’t cutting the mustard, reviewing and connecting related elements was not easy, in spite of it’s wonderful outlining features. What was needed was a database. The idea of a local WordPress install as project reference first shows up a couple years ago? Gonna see if I can find the first reference to installing MAMP… FAIL! Pretty funny, talking about how great this tool is and that odd feeling of rewriting and we can’t find the reference to when we last tried to install MAMP. I could a swore I remember reading something about that a few days ago… šŸ™‚ We still need to mark-up these posts properly.

Which brings us to how to make sure this resource is really worth worthwhile. There’s several slightly muddled objectives we ought to clarify now.

1) Finding related story ideas before production – like box labels. This recent push to bring the local blog into being was so that we could find all the information we have about the box labels so I could make them and wrap the Christina changing scene as soon as Richa sends the corrections. Still not there… if I search for ‘box’, ‘labels’ or ‘box labels’ right now, I get posts that mention them but no specifics to support box label production specifically, because it’s not there… yet.

2) A grand and complete history of the project including progress reports, lessons learned, my emotional state, evolution and insights. This also reveals the patterns that serve and hinder progress.

3) Public posts, what I’ve posted so far. Bottles cast into the surf, slightly scrubbed of rust and barnacles.

4) The current strategy in play. What I think I am doing, my latest and greatest thinking streamlined for immediate application.

So considering these 4 very different outcomes, how can this reference meet all of them? What role do categories play? If Story, History, Public, Strategy are all categories, how do they help us organize? Let’s play out some examples.

Let’s start with the box labels. They are primarily story telling elements. Posts might describe what boxes are / look like and why they are in the story including how they came to be in the world and what they communicate to the audience. Posts might also deal with production of boxes or how to make them. Production techniques fit into strategy and generate history, so let’s revisit how the goals relate to categories.

Strategy is maintained as persistent documents, (pages) it’s what we are actively practicing and is constantly being revised while defunct strategies are documented as historical documents. So strategies are maintained as pages, and maybe there are also categories for posts that build those pages.

OK, so meeting the goal of working and updating the current strategy is about maintaining persistent pages.

The overall project history documents progress, problem solving (what we’re doing now), lessons learned, my emotions and evolution, insights, production techniques… these categories are not as mission critical as finding elements for production. In fact that’s worth thinking about, what’s the most critical use of the reference immediately? Finding story elements and refining / working the strategy. So that’s what categories should focus on, because it’s about marking up posts quickly and efficiently before publishing. Bolded categories are the content I need priority access to.

Strategy (pages) Planning and Organization

Protocols
Financial
Legal – chain of title, contracts, insurance
Production
Promotion
Distribution
Transformation (Me)

Story

Scenes

christina changes
big boat mooring
hall entry
hall cabin
pier

Props

relief box labels
ads
graffiti

Characters

Joe
Christina
Gerry

Cognition – theories and assertions about the wiring under the board, the brain.
Influences – Extensions or distortions of other stories, current events, philosophy. How they might inter-penetrate and overlap
Cross Pollinate – spin off stories and parallel development
Exposition – revealing the premises of the world so as to make it’s goings on intelligible
Rationales – connecting into the internally consistent logic of the universe
Themes – what we’re exploring generally and conceptually
World Building / backstory – Developing the coherent qualities and an internally consistent logic of our universe including physics, geography, history.

Public – Progress reports, News, Observations / Musings

Making

dialog / ADR
music
foley / natural sound
photography / light
fabrication / materials
actors / casting / rehearsal
costumes
editorial
problem solving / hacks / fixes
graphic design / illustration
software / hardware
gear
workflows
script
sfx
vfx

Now, if I blast out an idea about or a sketch of box labels, but I don’t specifically write ‘box’ or ‘labels’ in the post, then the post won’t be collected into the set of all posts about box labels. Categories are the default mark-up strategy, they make sure mission critical tasks are found even if text (or tags) are missing. The hierarchy is just for visual clarity, drill down and select the deepest level of category only

Why tags then? Relevant detail, proper names that aren’t obvious in the text. Dan Kelly’s latest trendy paradigm du jour.

So the categories in dark are what I need to find immediately, basically the reason we’re building this archive in the first place.

April 22, 2014 – extracting the discoveries of this page for Strategy.

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