life itself and the craft of writingpublished: 2013-01-12
Every good film mimics the path and pacing of an entire lifetime, but squeezed into 1,5 hours. Things speed up as the years pass. We all have our inciting incidents and points of no return. And what about how scenes are ideally structured? “Every scene has to turn,” I once learned that somewhere, probably from McKee. It’s always in my head while I write, a suffocating mantra. Who’s scene is it? What does she or he want? Does she or he get it? And how does this meet our (the audience’s) expectations? Preferably it doesn’t, if you want to create suspense.
I went to my ex boyfriend’s* house today. It had taken a while for him to agree to seeing each other, in part because of things I had done that hurt him. But as we know, there’s always two sides to a story. It’s the writer’s job to recreate both.
I hopped on my bike, immediately dropping all the other important things I was supposed to be doing. Happy at the opportunity, lighthearted and with conscious intent on repairing the damages that have been done. Or at least giving it a start.
But when I left his house, I was sad. I kept wondering: when does that point come when you are numbed and you no longer care? Then I thought about how every scene has to turn. Anyone watching this scene would have witnessed a woman entering the scene positively. What did this woman want? What had I wanted? A first step towards a solid relationship. In came the conflict: it seems he did not want the same. I’m still not sure what it was he actually wanted. The writer in me would need to figure that out first. If I were writing this scene I suppose I’d say: he wanted her to say she was sorry. Which is exactly what she was doing, but he wasn’t hearing it. So perhaps it was something else, perhaps he wanted to punish her a little more. Whichever way, what started out as a perfectly hopeful scene turned sour.
Every scene has to turn. Life itself shows us how.
*in order not to offend anyone – the ex I refer to is not “the real ex” in the sense of: the most important ex, the father of my son and who still means the world to me. We all know that writing does not come without offense or sorrow or confrontation to others. The fear of hurting others has led me to my holding back and limiting myself, my words. Whatever happens in 2013 for me, that has to change.