Sunday, March 19, 2017


At the risk of causing dramatic and structural peril to your story, don't underestimate the portmanteau significance of this three-letter word.

In its robust presence as a verb, act conveys the intent of a character to behave with enough conviction and authenticity to convince others of sincere intent. Thus a narrator, telling a story--"Call me Ishmael," may emerge as reliable.

Thanks to the potentials of your imagination, act may also convey a character who is sincere yet lacking the experience and emotional vocabulary associated with reliable adults. Such a character is seen as reliable but also naive.

Experienced readers are quick to question the motives of characters who appear to act too sincere or concerned, possibly carrying over such suspicions into Real Time.

Act also resonates in its noun form, where it becomes a segment of a drama, contributing to the movement or arc of story across the sky of narrative. Act also becomes the file folder for a range of activities leading to the discovery, "It was only an act," meaning a subterfuge or pretense.

At one time the actor, or one who acts or performs, was also called a player, as in one who played a role, or portrayed another individual. Back in times when fewer individuals were able to read written texts, some players took the part of gods and goddesses, wearing stylized masks. Such players were often loaded into baskets, then lowered by winch onto the stage, where they would step forth to bring about the resolution of the story at hand. From this concept of god in a basket came the term deus ex machina, literally god in a machine, dealing out resolutions that took the action away from the human characters.

Sometimes a few moments of meditation on the verb/noun aspects of this simple word remind us in unexpected ways of the energy present within each character in each successful story, how that energy is put to use, and how it is seen by the other characters and,most important of all, by the reader.

No comments: