2006-10-06

Two Characters With Opposing Scripts

I finished the first part of Chapter 4 today - 1,500 words! Yay, me!

I introduced two minor characters, one a woman living next door to Jackie's mother, the other a nutty neighbor of Jackie's. This one's interesting, in that Jackie thinks she's faking her nuttiness; she's had some experience with that sort of stuff. But the really interesting thing is that this neighbor, Trish, senses something's not quite right with Jackie; she touches Jackie's scratched arm, and Jackie jerks that arm back.

So Trish has some sort of psychic ability. But it's wrapped inside that nutty act she's pulling (which no one else on the floor thinks is an act at all).

She'll be an important character later on, but I wanted to introduce her here because of that psychic ability.

But Jackie can't wait any longer; she's off to the office for a meeting that she only remembered a few minutes before. Will she make it to the office? Tune in next time...ack, no, it's not as melodramatic as a soap opera (at least, I don't think so).

I hope to do a little writing over this weekend, as there aren't any festivals or anything else like that this weekend.

About Those Characters

I talked about that Sol Stein book that I'm reading, Stein on Writing. I was struck, the other day, by something he said about creating tension or conflict between two characters:

The secret of creating conflict in scenes you write is to give your characters different scripts. - Chapter 7, The Actor's Studio Method, pg. 92 [italics his]
Why did that resonate with me? I'm not sure, other than that this makes a lot of sense to me. Mr. Stein bases this on something he did with director Elia Kazan at the Actor's Studio (Marilyn Monroe went there to study, as did others; you ever hear of method acting?). Mr. Kazan called Mr. Stein and a woman from the audience, keeping them separate. Mr. Kazan told Mr. Stein one thing about his character, and then told the woman something else about her character; neither knew what the other was told.

Mr. Stein states, "Within seconds we were quarreling, our voices raised." [Page 91] They were having at each other because Mr. Kazan gave them different scripts--and the audience loved it!

You can do the same with any two characters in a scene. Make the two scripts different, at odds with each other. If you bring in another character, make her script different from the other two.

That's what's been buzzing in my head. I don't think I've yet accomplished that in my rough draft, but then again, my original writing is pretty sparse. But the idea is in my brain, and should I need to, I can consult the book.

Although Mr. Stein can be condescending toward genre writers in this book, I've cut him a huge break, as the techniques and ideas he gives out sound spot on.

Besides, he's a published novelist and playwright many times over. How can I possibly be snooty about his obvious success?

Don't give up - keep writing!

2 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

If the character is going to be important later, it is pretty vital we meet her in the first part of the book, otherwise it tends to be jarring.

Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

~Nancy said...

Oops - of course, you're right. Having an important character just sort of walk in later in the book is jarring.

You're welcome! :-) You have a very nice blog, with some really gorgeous pics!