Monday, July 13, 2009

Heed in a Box

I hunch over the keyboard, trying to discern the keys in the darkness. Not because there's no longer enough money to pay for electricity, but because I can't be bothered to turn the light on. The same lack of discipline has kept me from the manuscript this evening.

Been watching Se7en, that wonderously dark film with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt... ooh, ooh, ooh, and Kevin Spacey (but don't tell anyone, it's a secret).

Hush, my typing's annoying the wife - must type slower, quieter, sneakier.

Watching Se7en for the first time in absolutely ages, I realised that the story isn't about a serial killer murdering people to the tune of the seven deadly sins.

Bare with me here, I did just say I hadn't seen it in a long time (not since school some 10 years ago),

That's our genre, our macguffin (if you can think of it in that kind of macabre way). The story is about the divide between the cynical, soft and experienced cop and the naive, hard and head-strong cop. The play between them is constantly that of wisdom versus wilfulness and cold realisation versus forced optimism.

Which leads me to a point about every aspect of the film: every scene plays on either the forward motion of the macguffin or the wrestling of Mills and Somerset.

Which in turn leads me to pondering the difficulty I'm having with the manuscript - I plotted the main events, I start working at them in the scene and I realise I'm not touching on the themes. I always have trouble writing those extra character bits that expand themes or show characters but don't necessarily progress the plot (I'm talking about minor bits and snippets of scene).

So the question is, when do you fit these scenes into your writing schedule? Are you able to just let it all flow together, or do you write your main plots page by page and then add the character and setting moments afterwards when you've realised your theme, etc, etc?

Yours in grateful mental obscurity.


solv said...

Another wonderful enigma from the wondering mind!
My initial thought is to combine them. You have your scene which does its thing, taking a state and switching it, and you work into it, where possible, a nugget of theme, whatever that might be. That way, you're not slowing pace - you're not stopping. And, once the hook has been presented, you're working in charged space and so whatever you add is augmenting suspense.

On my first read-through after completing the first pass, I discovered that a good few characterisation pieces could go, because they had been exposed elsewhere ('shown'), where the plot had been naturally receptive. So I'd say don't fret about it for now. Write as the feeling takes you - follow the emotions - and do so with an alert mind, always ready to leap onto any receptive moment. And if you can't find any yet, you're sure to later.

esruel said...

I've written a character-portrait of each person in my new story, trying to discover/explain who they are. I asked myself the question 'Why are they there?' and tried to answer it at an early stage. I have this strong idea that the reasons they are there will help enormously in writing the story around them.
Looking back over what I've written, I'm amazed at how much information is there. And the invaluable 'what if' question crops up even more regularly now.
Might help you a bit, Rich...

esruel said...

I hope this silence means you are writing, Rich. What you up to, my man???