Monday, October 24, 2011

Theatre in the Writing

Theatre was my passion in grade school. Now I wish I had taken legible, detailed notes in my high school drama class and kept them in a safe place until my writing passion developed. (Yes, I know, I'm hilarious).

Drama class never consisted of note taking, but the things I do remember apply to writing in very useful ways:

This refers to every movement made by an actor on stage. For an actor, this can be as hard to memorize as the lines. The margins of a script are never big enough to fit all the notes a director gives an actor. Then, the actor must make it all look natural instead of rehearsed a million times.

Each movement made by a character MUST have a purpose to it. But a character that doesn't move at all appears unnatural and stiff. The most common blocking purpose is to facilitate the scene (moves to door in response to the doorbell ringing). The more uncommon are propelled by emotion (pacing impatiently) or can be a character trait (moves to the table and runs a finger along the top for dust- character is a clean freak). The balance between dialogue and blocking must be made to keep the scene natural. And when you add more than one character to the stage, you must balance the blocking between them.

See how writing plays in yet?

This is a no-brainer. Even for those that have never set a foot in a theatre (though if you've never been in one for a live performance, I slap your cheek with a white glove and say 'get thee hither, man!') you know all about characters.

The difference is this: writing from inside the character's head, to actually embodying them. One particular drama class comes to mind, when our Drama teacher taught us the differences in how people walk. Some lead with their belly, some with their nose, some with their chests, and some with their toes... forehead... etc.

Bet you never thought of that, huh? (Now you'll be noticing this with people in public tee hee hee.) And while it may not be intrinsic to your plot whether your character leads with their belly or their forehead, it's still good practice to know your character that well. Also, posture says a lot about what that character thinks of themself.

Script Writing
There are times when a scene jumps into my head so fast, my fingers aren't fast enough to get it down before the magic passes. Sometimes it's just one layer of the scene that hits me (like just the dialogue, but not the blocking). In either case, I whip out my trusty pen and paper and jot it down, script style. I'll include a short example out of my notebook to show you what it would look like:

Cole: (pulls Lesser by his hair and pulls him up to half sitting) You'd better start talking
Lesser: What would you like to chat about, sweetheart?
C: There was a woman you took from the apartment. What happened to her?
L: We took 4 women. You'll have to be more specific.
C: She would've been more scared than the others.
L: Oh, you mean bear-slippers-and-a-bathrobe? Ugh, that lady wouldn't stop screaming.
C: (lights L on fire and watches him writhe)
L: (mocking) Your Daddy's fire is a lot worse than yours.

Then I can go to my keyboard and put it in with all the punctuation and proper blocking, etc.

Hope this helps. Break a... pen :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Leave Us Breathless" contest hosted by Brenda Drake.

Another great contest hosted by Brenda Drake. Get the deets for this contest here:

Title: Hellfire
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
WC: In progress
This is a scene from my current WIP. Cole is half demon/half human. Humans are naturally afraid of him, so physical contact isn't something he's used to. This is from Avery's POV, who isn't a regular human, and isn't scared of Cole. This is Avery and Cole's first kiss.

Cole shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and stared out at the water. “It’s stupid. Forget about it.”
“No way.” I picked up a rock and put it in his hand. “If it’s so stupid then why don’t you just tell me?”
“Blooping isn’t something... I can’t really...” He gave a huge huff. “I’d have to show you, and I don’t know if you’d want me to.”
Cole was embarrased for once? I tried not to smirk. “Oh, I want you to show me all right.”
Looking me in the eye with one eyebrow raised, he said, “just remember that you asked for it.” He drew back to throw the rock in the lake, then hesitated. “The rule is we don’t stop until we hear the rock bloop.” The rock flew from his hand.
“Stop wh...”
He took my face in his hands and planted a kiss on my lips. It was tentative and soft, and quick since the rock went bloop.
Cole stepped back, and slowly bent to pick up another rock while I stayed rooted to the spot, frozen with tingling that broke free of my stomach and spread all over.
“Next time I throw it farther,” Cole said quietly and waited for me to nod.
He smiled, relieved, and wound his arm back. The rock flew.
His kiss was more confident this time. His lips parted slightly, and then the rock went bloop.
“One more throw,” he whispered.
“Make it far,” I whispered back.
He stepped back, bent down for a rock, and threw.
All hesitation left him, as though he couldn’t stand being careful around me anymore, and the guard he had kept up crumbled. His lips moved firmly over mine without being rough.
When we broke for air, Cole gasped and held me close. “Holy hell,” he whispered. He was trembling.

(P.S. I'm currently searching for critique partners. I write paranormal YA and some adult. If you think our styles would match nicely, send me an email.)