Episode 10: We Wrote the Finale

This is a RadioPublic embed for Scoring Magic, “1.10: We Wrote the Finale“.

Date Published: 11/09/2019
Written By: Katie Youmans
Produced By: Wil Williams

We did it. We wrote the finale. The finale is written for season 1, and we did that, and we’re the ones who wrote it, and we did it. But like . . . not without panicking a little. A lot. Join sweet Katie as she breaks down what the process was like.

TRANSCRIPT

KATIE

Halloween is over and now our capitalist overlords have decreed that it’s time for every shop out there to attack us all with poppy Christmas music. Hide from all that for a little while with me!

KATIE

I like to think of myself as a pretty great gift-giver. I remember people’s likes and dislikes pretty easily, and I keep in mind things they’ve mentioned wishing they had, or needs they wish were filled. Plus, there’s a huge emotional payoff when I get to give them the gift and see their faces light up.

But Katie, I hear you wondering, what does this have to do with writing a finale, which I can see from the title of the episode is what you’re supposed to be talking about? Did I upload the wrong audio file to the feed? No, gentle listener. All the things I do that make me a good gift-giver are also things that make me a bad finale writer. Or at least, a very cautious one.

This week, on Scoring Magic, I’m going a little off-book from what we promised you last episode. We’ll still go into live table-reads, but in a later episode. We just got too excited because we have finished writing all. Our. Scripts. For season one. Aaaahhh!!! [laughs]

[intro music]

KATIE

Jumping back a bit, let me explain why gift-giving and finale writing feel similar in my head. In the episode about writing other people’s characters, I told you all about how badly I wanted to get characterization and voice juuust right because I didn’t want to let Wil down. When it came time to write the finale, however, I wanted to get everything just right because I didn’t want to let you down. Finales are supposed to be bigger, bolder, more exciting. They’re supposed to provide a satisfying resolution to threads that you’ve woven carefully throughout your season. And they’re supposed to plant a few seeds for the next season, if you’re planning on having a next season.

That’s . . . a lot of things to keep track of. 

Quick show of hands for a poll that’ll definitely work in this one-way, audio-only medium! How many of you were in some sort of advanced, honors, or “gifted and talented” type program during grade school? For those of you with your hands up, keep them up if, after finishing up school and no longer being in those programs, you still felt this terrible cloud of potential hanging over you that you knew you had to fulfill but had no idea how to fulfill? Cool cool cool. Yeah.

All this to say, I really wanted the finale script to come out perfect! I’m a Virgo! With anxiety! Who has made public claims to be a writer, and has asked for money for this thing I’m a co-writer on! What if it all turns out to be a big dumpster fire that people paid money to make happen and I waste all of your time and all of our actors’ time and my co-creators’ time?? As I said earlier, aaahh!!

Obviously, I did get through all of this, because the finale is written, and I didn’t try to make Wil do all of it. But it took some doing to get to that point.

KATIE

Wil and I realized we were both putting off writing the episode, and that we did not have time to keep doing that. Last episode, we mentioned how we’re running pretty behind our original schedule and needing to use that window of extra time that we built in for just such an occasion. But beyond just worrying about schedules, we also wanted it done because we wanted to read it! 

Is that goofy? Wanting to have your season written so you can go back and read the whole thing and get starry-eyed over the story? Because if so, then yeah, I guess we’re goofy. I’m ok with that.

We got on a call that lasted about an hour, and as much as I want to let you listen to some of the process of what went down in that call, it is one. Hundo. Percent. Spoilers, y’all. I cannot. There’s ten or fifteen second blips here and there that are shareable, but that’s about it.

[whimsical music over the recording]

KATIE

[laughs] I was just screaming the Wii shop song into the void!

WIL

Good. Good! As you should.

[bleep cutting to new clip]

KATIE

So far . . . Wil has added some outline things which are very useful. 

WIL

Mhmm.

KATIE

And all I have added is the text that says “Scene One” and then “Fuuuck??”

WIL

That is true. [laughs] Can confirm.

[bleep]

KATIE

So, we’re in agreement–John does not need a “Daddy” icon. Emoji, rather.

WIL

[exasperated sigh]

KATIE

. . . right?

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

Ok.

WIL

No.

[bleep back to narration]

KATIE

But we went through themes we have touched on throughout the eleven episodes before, and the emotional arcs of various characters. We talked about Stabl — Wil’s book that is our source material — and about details we wanted to make sure we carried over versus details that no longer really mesh with the ways in which we’ve diverged from the book. We thought about where characters were so far, and where they would need to be by the beginning of season two, and how to get them there.

But, like. We also had to outline the actual plot points. Character development is cool and all, but VALENCE also has plots and subplots that needed to be addressed and tied up, or developed to allow further unfolding later. We didn’t want any of you to end up listening and then thinking, “Wait, but what about . . . this thing? Or that thing! . . . what?”

And to avoid that, we turned to Gabriel Urbina again. I know we bring him up a lot, but he’s really just that good. We used his Ten-Point Story Structure — which we’ll link in the show notes — to plot out the episode, because the finale has so, so, so many moving parts, and we needed to keep track of all of them and make sure they make sense to the listener, and that they’re narratively satisfying. We used the ten points as beats in the main body of the episode, and it helped us tremendously in overcoming the feelings of “lol where do we even start??”

KATIE

And then . . . we kinda . . . diverged from that plan. A lot. Which is ok! There’s nothing wrong with diverging from your plan once you start writing. The plan is there to get you started, and help you keep track of things you want to accomplish. But if you start writing and realize, “oh, this other way works even better” or “oh I actually don’t want to put my sound designer through this particular hell” or “hey Anne can we have another smooch sound effect approved for this season??” then that’s absolutely alright. No battle plan survives first contact, and no writing plan is word-for-word what you thought it would be in the drafting stages. Stories are living things, and it only makes sense for them to grow and evolve along the way.

KATIE

At one point, Wil and I both remarked that we were so damn pleased with the scripts, and surprised at how much we like them. I have a theory on why. When you have co-creators, you don’t have full ownership of the words that end up on the page. This is a great thing. Remember earlier, when I joked about how being labeled gifted and talented messes you up with all these expectations of what you’ll do? Yeah. It’s easy to look at your own work and see only the flaws. To invent flaws that don’t even exist. We don’t do that to nearly the same degree with other people’s work.

WIL

We really did that!

KATIE

We did that! Ooh wait, I don’t have headphones in so like, you’re gonna echo. [prolonged dramatic groan of effort] 

WIL

[laughs]

KATIE

Aagh, this is really good audio!

WIL

Wonderful.

[bleep]

WIL

We . . . we finished–we fin–we– [laughs] 

KATIE

We did that so hard that we forgot . . . words.

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

We used ‘em all up!

WIL

We really fuckin did. We–

KATIE

All out of words.

WIL

 We–I–we–are–we’ve written–we’ve written a full season. Of an audio drama. And it’s good. Like, we did that.

KATIE

We–we did do that though.

WIL

We did do that! Like, holy shit.

KATIE

Aah!! I’m too dehydrated to cry!

WIL

Yeah. And I, like, I really–I think it’s really good!

KATIE

I mean, I don’t wanna jinx it but I also–

WIL

I know.

KATIE

–think it’s really fucking good!

WIL

I think it’s really fucking good! I think it’s really fucking good — that’s crazy. Like, we . . . did that. We did that! We did that.

KATIE

How?

WIL

. . . I don’t know. I don’t know!

KATIE

[laughs] Ooh boy . . . Oh boy!

WIL

How many–how many pages do you think we’ve written? Total?

KATIE

Um . . . twelve episodes averaging probably about twenty . . . three to four pages, I refuse to do math–

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

–so, uh . . . several.

WIL

Ok, wait, twelve times —

KATIE

-forty-four times two, two-hundred and eighty-eight-ish. . . . that might be math.

WIL

. . . wow. Wow.

KATIE

Jeepers. . . . how many pages did Stabl clock in at, just for a giggle?

WIL

Oh Christ, so fuckin many.

KATIE

[laughs]

WIL

Too many. It doesn’t even matter.

KATIE

I wanted to compare. . . 

WIL

Lemme look, lemme pull it up. Oh my god.

KATIE

[laughs] I’m sorry, I’m rereading your comments on the finale.

WIL

[laughs] Oh my god. I just can’t, like–I can’t. I’m so happy with it. Like.

KATIE

Yes.

WIL

I know–I know that, eventually, like. . . in three days, I’m gonna be panicked over it again. But, like–

KATIE

But then you’ll be happy again?

WIL

Yeah!

KATIE

Ok.

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

I’m checking.

WIL

Yeah, I didn’t think–I didn’t think I’d ever be this happy with–

KATIE

–anything.

WIL

Ah, yeah.

KATIE

Oh no! That was a joke! Wil!

WIL

Oh . . . I mean . . . 

KATIE

Wil! Please!

WIL

No . . . 

KATIE

Please experience joy!

WIL

I do, I do. But, ok. I never thought that I’d be this happy with something that I made, or that I, like, had a big role in making.

KATIE

Yeah. I think one of the beauties, for me, of–of having a co-writer, is that . . . I don’t look at it and see just my work–

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

–that I, like, get mad at. 

WIL

Right. Yeah. It’s–yeah. Um, Stabl was one hundred and seventy-five pages of single-spaced, eleven-point Arial. 

KATIE

Oh my god.

WIL

That’s too long.

KATIE

That’s so many mcfucking words.

WIL

Ugh. Not even good ones! It is, like–I mean, they’re fine.

KATIE

Some of them are very good!

WIL

Like, nothing–it’s nothing compared to where we got, and I’m very proud of that.

[narration]

KATIE

When you have teammates, you’re not looking at the scripts and thinking about all of the things that you, personally, did wrong. You’re looking at something that you and your teammates created together, and that’s . . . really, really exciting! Because you did that! You made that! Unlike group projects in school, you and your teammates came together to make something that didn’t involve you staying up late and plotting revenge while begrudgingly putting other people’s names on the “written by” slide of your powerpoint! I’m not bitter!

KATIE

And eventually, you get to share that script with your actors, and then later you get to share the episode with your listeners!

KATIE

The reactions we got from our actors were so encouraging and gratifying and validating. I cannot wait to hear the reactions from all of you. Writing this season of VALENCE has been the single more rewarding creative endeavor I’ve done so far, and it’s also been the first creative project I’ve actually finished writing. It’s massive, both emotionally and literally. No, really. I don’t know how it compares to other shows of similar lengths, but uh . . .

KATIE

We did an actual tally and not a middle-of-the-night vague attempt at math later. The scripts for season one of VALENCE come in at two-hundred and ninety-seven pages. That’s wild to me. We started writing these in June. We finished before Halloween. I have literally cried over these scripts — sometimes because the writing just wouldn’t come to me, and sometimes because I wrote a scene that is hopefully going to make you all cry, but I got myself good too.

Listener, remember how I said that, uh . . . Wil and I recorded over an hour of us plotting out the finale, but that I couldn’t share more than a few tiny blips of it, because spoilers? Well, what if I did anyway? Here is a tiny sneak peek at something that, for reasons I will not disclose, is going to happen in the final episode of season one of VALENCE.

[recording]

KATIE

It breaks my heart that the listeners will not understand how visually distracting Nico is. 

WIL

In this moment, he wouldn’t be.

KATIE

No, but–but typically.

WIL

But typically, yes. [laughs]

KATIE

Is he gonna dye his hair??

WIL

He won’t–

KATIE

Or just wear a hat?

WIL

Oh GOD NO. 

KATIE

That’s what I thought.

WIL

[laughs] 

KATIE

I was like, hmmm. Black knit cap– 

WIL

He won’t–

KATIE

–for burgling, or black dye for hair?

WIL

Uh, it’ll be just, like–like a . . . oh my god, he had to dye his hair.

KATIE

He had to dye his hair!

WIL

He had to dye his hair. He had to dye his hair. Oh my god.

KATIE

We can add a throwaway comment about that if we want, because I have a feeling this episode’s going to need some moments of levity.

WIL

Yes. And I am ok . . . with making it canon . . . at the season one finale that he has had green hair this whole time.

[laughter]

[narration]

KATIE

I told you I was a good gift-giver.

KATIE

Next time on scoring magic . . . we’ll see! This episode went a direction we weren’t expecting. And . . . I did say that stories are living things, so let’s see where living thing takes us next. Scoring Magic is a Hug House production. Our music this week was by Broke for Free and Kevin McCleod. 

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