Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Unthinkable Come to Pass

Tellers of stories can take several vital clues from photographers in the matter of how to use time. The fastness or slowness of the shutter speed governs the passage of light onto the film or sensor medium. Story, once required by the so-called Unities to remain in present time, can jump ahead, back, and even into parallel time frames.

Tellers of stories can also take clues from actors who, in fact, take on the persona of the character in a narrative, using timing, body movement, and verbal responses to represent--to become a proxy--for the character.

One of the great acting decisions a character makes is to discover which of three modes is ascendant at a given moment in the story arc: Head--is the character being rational, thoughtful, reasoning events? Heart--is the character feeling sentimental, loyal, driven by nostalgia or perhaps guilt? Genital--is the character driven by sexual fantasies, urges, needs?

Find which of these three centers becomes the pole star for the character and you have the key to the character's motivation at a particular moment in time.

Find out what causes the character to follow this particular pole star and you have established the key to motivation.

It is no wonder I am so drawn to technical orientation regarding how to motivate characters; the writers' conference has begun, I am in a sea of writers, each of whom is making way to a shore which I must discover, often with little preparation, and often with every sense that the shoreline keeps moving.

1 comment:

lettuce said...

i like the link between photography and story-telling - good food for thought.

Re: Oryx and Crake. I think I didn't initially like it as much as her other fiction - I didn't get immersed in it in the same way, didn't feel sympathy for the characters perhaps. But I've taught about/around/with it a bit (in the context of nature and environment in Sci Fi) and through doing that, I've liked it more and more.

Your question to me: i'm working on it.