Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stick to the Script...or Stuck to the Script

A recurrent theme for you is the similarity between the musician running scales and the writer "running" ideas or concepts or even dialogue between characters.  Yet another theme is the link between music and writing in the sense of each being governed by time and by attempts to convey emotions through the quality of evocation.

Joining the group of artists who rely on and are influenced by the passage of time and you are able to build in the photographer who, at least, regulates via time the amount of light that will pass through a lens and in its process assist in transferring an image to film or a sensor.

Please not to forget the actor who, with a partner, is able to form equivalency to the musician running scales by improvising dialogue.  Improv has at least two functions, strengthening the actor's ability to react in character on a quicker, more confident plane, and learning how to move beyond his or her thought processes and into a state of responding to stimuli as the character.

In a sudden picture of insight, you've wondered to yourself about the connection between the actor practicing improvisation and the writer honing dialogue skills.  The writer has his work cut out in that he has to in effect be all the characters in a story.  The actor can be content to strive for obtaining the sense of only one character, or perhaps one at a time.

Some directors are known to take rehearsal to an entire new (and more intense) level by asking the actors in a particular scene to improvise their concepts of the script's intent, varying from the actual script in terms of not using the words or gestures called for in the script or agreed upon by director and cast in previous rehearsals.

Actors are free to use whatever language and gesture provided they keep on the story line.  Hamlet, for instance, during an improv with Ophelia in the famed "Get thee to a nunnery" scene would be free to suggest other alternatives to continuing the conventions of the romantic life.  Playing with the permutations, Hamlet and Ophelia, when in a performance, would have access to the timing associated with the author's grand, poetic lines and their intent.  These star-crossed lovers would come closer to achieving a wrenching portrayal of the anguish felt by each party, adding dimension to the lines of the scene as Shakespeare hoped for them to be delivered.

Taking that approach to a scene of your own story, you'd write a draft or two in which you were able to get a grasp on the feelings you'd hoped to evoke and bring into play.  Then you'd set that near-satisfactory draft aside prior to rewriting the scene from your memory of the way you saw and felt the intent of the characters.  Now you reread with care, alert for nuances and clues, things the characters say or do and the time frame and pace with which they deliver.

This is by no means a formula; you've put too much time into play, dealing with formula, which is, after all, recipe.  A cup here, a pinch there, fold in an egg, mix, pour, bake at 350 for half an hour.

You want to approach the scenes with as immediate a focus as possible from each character, remembering how important to each one it is to be portrayed as sincere, confident, concerned with and absorbed by the conviction that he or she is right about the issues forthcoming in the immediate scene.

Doing this improv three or four times, each time with a different intent, say levity or irony or even enhanced purpose or ridicule will offer you a menu of "feel right" dishes from which to sample as you return to the scene, suddenly bursting with your awareness of it, now better able to see the scene as a true performance with radiant details.

Difficult as it is to quantify the results of the draft written after the scene has been improved and rethought in terms of the apparent results, you should be able to see one version that appeals more than the others.  Of course this is the version to use; your characters have performed it a number of times, have absorbed it, and have brought it a step or two away from your intentions and closer to their own.

An interesting truth here: characters want recognition for their performance.  Of course you are  their creator, but in the act of creating and solidifying them, they've become more than Dr. Frankenstein's patchwork; they've become dimensional enough to want to carry the conversation.

If you are successful and fortunate in your ventures, a reader or two may well respond with admiration to your characters.  Had to keep reading, the reader will say, to see what they'd do next.  You nod, knowingly because while you were creating them, you had to continue heaping difficulties and questions and problems upon them for the same reason:  to see what they'd do next.

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