Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Potential Solution to the Writer's Biggest Problem

In your attempts to deal with the details presented you when a story comes, your most direct approach is to pull two or more of the characters into a scene, then have them begin each trying to impress the other with the beauty and purpose of the idea.

You must now come to a crossroads.  Which of the characters owns the idea, wishes to pursue it to some sort of conclusion?  And how will this effect the other characters?  Perhaps one of them will chime in, "Why should I stay at home while you are doing it?  I want to be with you."

And the original character, the Owner of the idea, says in response, "You know I always work alone."

Things are beginning to happen, already.  You have thesis and, if you will, counter thesis.  A story is on the way.

When this happens to you, the results are so electric, so galvanizing that you can barely think.  This is exactly right; you should not be thinking at this point.  "They," your characters, are speaking to you, suggesting bits of information, pacing, vocabulary.  You hear a voice asking you, "What is the one thing Character X can say or ask now that will provoke an edgy response from Character Y or Z?"  You know the characters are talking now.  This is not you thinking, even though the material comes to you in the form of a question.  If you stop right now, you will slide back to thinking, which you do not wish nor need to do until much longer in the process.

Try it, the next time you're stuck:

"This is a great fucking idea.  I am so down with it."

"Are you our of your fucking mind?  Do you know what will happen if you get caught, if anyone finds out."

"That's  all the more reason why we mustn't get caught."

"We?  Did I hear you say'we'?"

"With you help, I'm not going to get caught.  We're not going to get caught."

If you listen with care, you'll be able to hear the next line and the next and perhaps even the one right after that.  You might get an entire page or two before the voices begin to fade, at which point you have to figure a way to get "them" working the story line again.  Perhaps bring in another character to which each of the previous characters turns, each trying to convince this new character of the inherent correctness and wisdom of X or Y.

The elements of the story goal are thus built, stacked one upon the other.  This process can be used as well as a revision tool, a way of improvising every scene to the point where the purpose of the scene and, thus, the dialogue and movement within it, are stacked or stored or arranged somewhere about the characters.

By now, if you do the thing you know you're not supposed to do--which is to think--you'll have a list of factors, dramatic information, you wish the reader to know.  Hamlet did not suspect his uncle until his father's ghost comes forth to tell him so.  Later on, readers may begin to question.  He knew.  He must have had some clue.  Why would his uncle make such a quick move on Hamlet's mother?  Was it lust and envy, or was it a bold chess move whereby the act of marrying the anointed queen all the more legitimizes Claudius's new status as the new king rather than some also-ran noble?

This is in fact what early drafts are for.  Early drafts allow you to make lists of necessary details, but not as descriptions or stage directions, rather as full-blown dramatic energy, which is information brought out with as much action as possible.

You are asking quite a bit of yourself.  You are asking for the duality of mind necessary to produce the non-duality of story.  Thus all drama is non-dual, it simply "is."  Your thoughts, injected in the wrong veins and arteries will produce fatal results, fatal in the sense of bumping the reader out of the story and into the reader's own critical mindset.

Imagine that you have in essence stopped a story at a critical point in order to give the reader information you believe the reader needs to know right now.  If you finesse this information with enough artistry, you might get away with it.  Might.

On the other hand, you might encounter the same kind of anomaly you'd encounter were you caught trying to return an item you'd bought at IKEA to the returns department at COSTCO.

So what's the difference, you say.  The item was manufactured by a third party, offered for sale at both stores.  So what's the big deal?
The big deal is the laziness the reader sees but which you do not/

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