Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Productivity thy name is me.

As it turns out, yesterday was a largely productive day and I did indeed get into the writing "groove."

As I'm tackling the THIRD draft (guh) of my thesis script (my Western Masterpiece... at least that's what it's supposed to be) I've been noticing more things about the writing process, and I've been slipping into it more and more naturally. Now when I read older things I've written, not only can I tell what's wrong, I can usually pinpoint how to fix it. Now, as I comb through this script, I'm changing around everything, particularly the characters. As it turns out I'm far too instinctive in my writing, far too much for my own good. I suppose once I figured out I could write well I didn't reckon I needed to think too deeply about how to write anymore-- and I don't mean structure, because that's something I've built my knowledge of. It's something else that I'm just tapping into, something between structure and content-- some sort of logic. I write atmosphere very well, and second to atmosphere is my dialogue. It's usually very natural and conversational, so much so that I let it write itself and it generally sounds good-- but therein lies the problem. With my dialogue and character development I've gone almost totally on instinct-- "well, I feel like he would say THIS"-- rather than observing it logically. And that's fine, for the first few drafts. It makes the dialogue believable, but ultimately the characters, whom I think through very thoroughly, don't develop fully because I've limited them by going by what I feel in the moment that I'm writing their actions and speech. I am NOT going by the logical flow of development that I intended in the first place. I write character biographies and discuss my characters-- with myself-- but their development is not always at the front of my mind, and that tends to come out when I converse about them with other people.

IE one of my major rewrites this time around is the way in which my main character, Jerome, a murderer masquerading as a civil servant, motivated by the concept that there is reward and even reverence for doing what you feel. My intention as I was writing him was sociopathic rehabilitation (and thus, more simply, redemption), however I was so at ease with writing his dialogue that I did not apply my intention to every aspect of his character. Or if I did, I certainly didn't show it, and that's the whole point of a script. You're not telling the reader/audience what the situation is, you're SHOWING them, by jingo. In my first two drafts Jerome is intriguing but far too vague and occasionally nonsensical because his dialogue reads like a typical cowboy from a Clint Eastwood movie. When I wrote said dialogue I just assumed that an audience would pick up on the fact that Jerome is supposed to be sociopathic and is just mimicking social norms depending on who he happened to be speaking to, however after really reading the script one discovers... that is absolutely not the case at all. He kills little kids and also happens to spend most of his time engaging in humorous repartee like Curly from Oklahoma or something stupid like that. Makes no sense, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that that is not going to work. So now I attack him with a much stronger and clearer vision.

One can't simply expect an audience to "know what i mean." Unfortunately. 'Cause then I'd really be considered brilliant. Ah well.

Also, may I just say I've finally thrown myself into East of Eden and it's remarkable. The only Steinbeck I've read up to this point were Grapes of Wrath (which I, unlike the rest of America, do not really like. His writing style is fabulous but eh, something about that story. I like the movie a bit better because their truck piled with stuff reminds me of my family's move from the south to California. anyway..) and Of Mice and Men, which is absolutely wonderful but ever so sad and short. EoE is not short, though I can't count the times I've paused in my reading of it to remark to myself how heartbreaking it is. I don't know how he does it! Damn writers! Damn amazing writers, I hate and love you.

1 comment:

Sonja said...

I tried to read Grapes of Wrath. Could not get through it at all.

Glad you were productive. I'm not at the point in my own writing where I can identify what's wrong and know how to fix it.

I thought taking creative writing classes was supposed to teach me how to fix that but eh...not so much.

Anyway -- I look forward to reading the third draft (if you'll let me heh).