Monday, March 24, 2008

Life as a Teleprompter

It is not enough to merely invent characters, contrive situations for them in which they can reach out for the things they want or, if for practical and/or realistic reasons the things they want are not available to them.

It is necessary to be them, be all of them, see all of their vectors and through lines, become in a way besotted with the obstacle course of a world that they have created for themselves and which by some bit of time warp you are able to visualize.

Trying on worlds and landscapes is something like trying on hats or sunglasses, something like having your eyes measured to provide a means by which you can see close up, medium distance, and off into the greater distance.

Trying on characters, becoming them, knowing what they want, what they do not dare to let themselves know what they want, watching them in action where surprising things come springing forth is most difficult of all.

If we spend too much time thinking of plot, the results will seem like tour guides attempting to move waves of tourists in and out of buses, out and about dramatic sites, ultimately in and out of souvenir shops where they will search for mementos already fated for garage sales of the future.

So we are left with discovering what they want, what they will do to secure that desired goal, how they will respond having got the goal.

You sometimes think dreams have nothing to do with your own brain playing out its overload of images but rather the scraps and ghosts of stories begun, finished, perhaps pruned but an equal perhaps is that they have been abandoned and are returning to claim their inheritance from you.

Individuals who experience stress and some measure of stiffness in their joints repair to yoga centers to bend, stretch, clear the mind of clutter, relax the stress-filled muscles. Individuals who write ultimately entertain the discipline that is the opposite, they take in huge gulps of frustration and tension, feel the insides constrict, the muscles tighten because these are the things that accrue to the writer, trying to be a person, trying to fit into him or her as though he or she were a suit one size too small or one size too large.

How do your people respond to tight shoes, overly stylized clothing, colors right out of the Lands End Catalog? Ah, you were listening, watching. perhaps you will get them yet. Just be careful not to let them get caught up in prompts and artificiality. They have troubles enough of their own and should not have to worry about such things.


Unknown said...

I remember being surprised at something I was told, because it followed my pattern to a T. I was told that most writers know how their story begins, how it concludes, but everything else falls into place as they write, the journey not being completely predetermined. This is how I write, and it's a matter of saying, "Now how shall we get to Nashville today? Will we go by the interstate where there may be car crashes, and the distinct possibility of being shuffled into the incorrect lane, therefor landing on the wrong side of town, or shall we take the adventures of the scenic route?" Either way can make a great tale, with the same destination in mind.

z said...

I focus so much on characters I often can't find the story. It's just a bunch of characters waiting for Godot, and arguing in the process.

vespajackhole said...

why not, not know? Are we God? Maybe they sometimes show up and confound and move on and that's all we get. Maybe they make no sense and in their senselessness clear the veil of construction.