PWN: What inspired this story?
Nancy: I was inspired by “the madwoman in the attic,” a trope identified in the 1970s by literary critics who were examining Victorian fiction from a feminist perspective. The madwoman I’m most drawn to is Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre. Bertha’s husband, Mr. Rochester, locked her in the attic after she supposedly went mad during their marriage. Rochester, still married to Bertha, pursues Jane as if Bertha does not exist. That kind of “discard the broken thing and get a new one” fascinated me, because the broken thing will never be fixed until you confront it, as Jane learns.
PWN: Describe your writing process. Are you someone who plots or writes by the seat of her pants?
Nancy: I’m a ‘pantser’ who uses structure to maximize my ‘pantsing’ (if that makes sense).
Prior to starting a project, I plot the story from beginning to end at a very high level, describing each major story beat with one or two sentences. Then, I ‘pants’ from beat to beat. I like working this way because my outline tells me where to start and stop. Having these pre-established guideposts enables me to write freely with a purpose.
Outlining the story prior to writing also helps me avoid a lot of story problems that might arise from pure pantsing. It’s sort of a checklist to make sure story stakes are always rising and events connect to the theme.
PWN: How has PWN’s Screenwriting Incubator influenced or helped your writing process?
Nancy: The writing-group nature of the Screenwriting Incubator has helped me the most. Listening to other writers’ work opens my mind to possibilities in my own work. I also enjoy helping others solve their story problems. It makes solving my own problems less daunting.
PWN: What are you hoping to get out of the table read?
Nancy: I’m looking forward to hearing professional actors perform what I wrote. I’m sure listening to the words will help me make them better. The feedback from the actors is also invaluable.