Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 27: Arrested Development

I seem to be stalled. Yesterday's "snowpocalypse" afforded me the luxury of a few hours to write, my only real extended block to do so this week until Saturday evening. I was determined and excited to reconnect with Frank, especially after our little conversation on Tuesday (which I thought had given me an idea of what the next scene would be). I turned off my phone, quit out of Firefox, and started to write. Sort of.

I stopped and started 3 or 4 different scenes. I kept getting stuck -- a handful of lines in and the scene would just stall. I couldn't seem to get any forward movement. I kept asking myself "what do these characters want from each other?", and couldn't hear a clear answer. So then I started asking them what they want, hoping for a reply. One finally came through from Frank, but it didn't feel like a terribly strong desire and I couldn't seem to figure out how to get him to fight for it for more than a line or two. Finally it was time to put it to rest so that I could celebrate the one-year-anniversary of my first date with my boyfriend, so I left it alone, frustrated. (Three cheers for a boyfriend who understands the frustration of not being able to create when you are really trying to, and who thus wasn't upset that I was cranky for the first part of our evening).

Today that magic thing happened that sometimes happens when I take my journal out on the subway and start writing. I keyed into something. I again asked Frank what he wanted, and boy did I get a clear response. I finally understood what he wants, and how desperately he wants it - at least in this moment of the play. Then I also immediately realized my challenge in writing for this character:

When you have a character who doesn't like to talk, how do they go after what they want?

You've all known the sort -- the taciturn, say-as-few-words-as-possible kind of person who is as likely to merely shrug or utter a "hmmpf" as he is to form a syllable. The anti-story-teller, the sort who doesn't see the point in trying to explain things that just are. The sort for whom saying too much is revealing too much; who hides behind a wall of silence.

When such a person truly, desperately needs something, but is too proud and afraid to express why they need it, how do they try to get what they want? I'm not sure I know the answer to this. I'm hoping Frank will reveal it to me, but I also wouldn't mind some suggestions. Any thoughts from my readers?


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