Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holy Control Freak!

Control is the spine of drama.

Characters jump into story thinking to control a portion of their destiny; perhaps as much of their destiny as they possibly can, growing as fervent in their goals as an addict on some other more tangible substance.  Characters want there to be a destiny to control, wanting to exert influence on other characters and events, daring in some cases to presume to effect outcomes involving the elements, the Fates, the public at large--even wanting to challenge their own image of what they presume God to be.

As a reader, you are more likely to root for the success of an individual whose target goal is one for which you find ready empathy.  Becoming a fan of such a character draws you more deeply into that character's range of goals and your own presumption of aspects of the character which are unstated, perhaps note even dramatized.

A major dramatic awareness dawned upon you when you began to notice how shifts of power among characters influenced the way they act and feel, some characters in stories as well as many individuals in reality relishing their ability to control situations and circumstances.  Such people in reality are called control freaks, their tool kits including a sophisticated array of responses , some of which are the wide-band broadcasting of a sense of entitlement or perhaps even more to the point a greater-than-normal sense of being right.  Who among us does not like to be right, even if more often than not he. does not have the strength of conviction associated with being right?

Still other control freaks project a strong enough sense of being hurt or offended by the merest hint of opposition as to turn off any serious opposition from all but those who are not easily deterred in asserting their own correctness.

Imagine the drama inherent in a marriage between two control freaks.

While you are on the focus of controlling behavior, imagine how controlling you are about your own work and the characters you create, making you wonder at the same time if some of this control extends into the corridors of reality which you walk every day.  You have already admitted to being obsessive and compulsive; why not add control freak to the list?  Why not as well pick particular situations where you perceive you are in a situation where you are being controlled by a control freak or feel the exertion from the force field of someone trying to control you?  At least catalogue the gamut of emotions you feel under such circumstances, the better to write telling dialogue when situations emerge in your stories.

Imagine also the forces of attraction and admiration between you and your dog, who combines from both parents the instinct to herd other animals and whose tool kit includes implements to effect the herding?

It is only a slight leap in logic to move to the notion of yourself herding your characters, all the while proclaiming their freedom of inevitability--the freedom to do as they wish.  You do not believe this last for a moment because you have already gone to such obsessive effort to arrange the circumstances that pen your characters in.

Control is the backbone of drama and you are a literary equivalent of a chiropractor.

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