Friday, November 16, 2012
What Do You Want?
This question is the beginning of dramatic possibility.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about this from all of my characters' perspective.
✬ What do they want?
✬ Who or what is stopping them from getting what they want?
✬ How can I make what they want mean everything to them - and to the reader?
✬ How can I make their struggle to get what they want as interesting as possible?
✬ What can I do to break a character's heart?
Or as Mr. Vonnegut put it, "Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order that the reader may see what they are made of."
Triple bingo, Kurt.
I especially like how David Mamet* put it:
QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA?
DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, ACUTE GOAL.
SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES OF EVERY SCENE THESE THREE QUESTIONS.
1) WHO WANTS WHAT?
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF SHE DOESN'T GET IT?
3) WHY NOW?
(*If you read the whole story, which you should, be forewarned that Mamet is a bit of a potty mouth.)
And I ran into this the other day, in a photograph at the Orem Public Library of all places:
1. I WANT...
3. SO I...
Take it away, Leonardo: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo DaVinci
So before beginning any story, long or short, I first ask myself these questions on behalf of all my story critical characters. Over and over and over.
Once they refuse to let me change their answers, I know we're ready to go to work.
Posted by Scott Livingston at 4:44 PM