You may have seen the first two episodes of this experiment in the bare bones of storytelling, The Eye of the Wind and Cat o’ Nine Tails. If not, you should check out the final version on their new page, here.
The basic idea was to demonstrate how a few basic tent-poles of character (through dialogue), setting (through imagery), theme, and plot can convey the power of a story, over which the remaining cloth can be draped later.
As it turned out, the exercise is also a good example of how to incorporate the eight-sequence method, Brian McDonald’s “invisible ink,” and elements of Blake Snyder’s beat sheet to keep a story arc on track. Once you have this framework in place, it’s much easier to work out the filler scenes—which shouldn’t be thought of as “filler” material at all! These scenes should support, accentuate, and harmonize with the tent-pole material the way the rhythm guitar provides background chords for the lead guitar’s riff.
Tent-poles without tent-cloth are naked and useless. The “filler” is what makes a pillow more than just a weird, double-ply rectangle of cloth. What you put between the key points in your story arc matters!
If you’ve read the first two episodes, you can probably guess what sorts of filler scenes this hypothetical Pirates trilogy would need. They’d probably involve a little more attention to Cardinal Baldassaro and Captain Jules, although (as you may notice) the Cardinal exists primarily as a “lesser of two evils” throw-away villain to create contrast for the growing threat of Anne Bonny. Captain Jules, as you’ll see in this final episode, offers the “saver romance” required in any film featuring an element of romantic rivalry or conflict. Romcom fans know what I mean, and so will you when you read the tent-pole sketch for True Colours.