This morning, after a day of banging my head on a third act that didn't feel right, I started sketching out five-sentence synopses of every possible ending variant that popped into my head. After I had about eight, I started to zero in on something that didn't feel like a complete cop-out. But the way things have been going, I'll probably wake up tomorrow morning and feel like today's additions were crappy. Well, even if I only save five percent of each day's gains, that'll get me somewhere, eventually.
One thing I've zeroed in on is that this really is a love story. It sounds like a simple thing to say, but I had to sweat for about a week before that was clear to me.
Another thing that I'm starting to notice is that a lot of movies (including some movies that I really like) get away with murder in the writing department. Bad pacing, cliches, too much exposition, repetition -- it turns out that you can still make a successful, well-liked movie, even if your story sucks. And the literary standards for sci-fi and action movies are especially low. I feel like I'm already close to the middle of the pack, story-wise. Anime films, especially, can fall into some weird, solipsistic navel-gazing B.S. I totally understand the impulse, but nobody cares that you have deep thoughts. They want to see stuff happening.
I don't know how long I should wrangle with this before I throw in the towel and start drawing (more importantly, I don't know how long I can afford to wrangle with it).
I said I wanted a learning experience. Boy, did I get what I asked for.