I’m working on my latest draft of my steampunk screenplay. It’s draft 9. You never really finish rewriting, but that’s another story. I felt the need to change one thing. During the climatic fight/escape scene the leader of the group tells my protagonist what to do so they can all escape. Now, she comes up with the idea herself. This led to massive changes to the next eight pages which have taken me several nights to figure out.
Why so much work? Because when the leader made the suggestion, knowing she could accomplish the task despite her misgivings, he knew what to expect. And he and his wife (my protagonist’s mentor) coordinated the fight accordingly. Now the leader doesn’t know what to expect. In fact, he was trying to protect my protagonist. But she has now gone off with her best friend. He only sees the results of what they are doing and surmises their plan. This changes various element of the fight, but certain key elements have to stay in sequence for the overall scene to work. This is where it gets tricky. I’m also giving my protagonist more to do, things that show off her unique talents. But that takes time. So the main fight has to go on longer (or seem to go on longer without adding script pages) to give my protagonist time to save the day.
I also dropped one good guy, he really wasn’t doing much. When I started this story, I saw him as the leader’s right hand man. Part of the core fighting group. But as the story progressed, I just didn’t have much for him to do. He just became more of a driver. Not even the leader’s personal driver, more of the estate’s driver. Even here at the climactic scene he has little to do. So he’s gone. That didn’t change things much at all, which shows you how unimportant he was.
So why go to all this trouble? Why make it my protagonist’s idea instead of the leader’s idea. Because it s my protagonist’s story. She is the heroine of the story. She is the one who has to change and take action. She starts off just wanting to be a gear head with no intention of being any kind of hero. But toward the end (the end of act two, actually), when her father is kidnapped and no one around her wants to help, she realized she must be the hero and rescue him herself. Then in this scene, a fight is going on. She is not a trained fighter like the others in her group. But she can use her mechanical skills to help everyone escape. In this way, she becomes the hero of the story and a key part of the team.
The story centers around a family of fighters, a family of heroes. This is the story of my protagonist joining this group. She is THE hero of the story, but she also is the everyman character. She is the character through which we learn about the steampunk world she lives in, are amazed by the inventions available to this family, and are thrilled, amazed and terrified by the journey she takes. She is the character that has to be changed by the experiences she goes through. She starts out not wanting anything to do with being a hero. She ends up taking the initiative to use her skills to save everyone despite the danger. So for that reason, that little change in the script, regardless of how much extra worked it caused, had to be made.