Monday, July 18, 2016

Post 2 Technology, Creativity, Dialogue, Character, and Point of View…and What I’ve Interpreted from Aaron Sorkin

Attention Writers and Authors: This is a long continuation of yesterday's Sunday morning analysis of dialogue, character, and point of view. It’s just some thoughts I put together…It’s not law. If you have something helpful to add, by all means, please leave a comment...

continued from yesterday: What I liked about Aaron Sorkin’s method is the way he mulls the story over in his head, kind of stirring it up in a pot, and then he lets it simmer. Later he may add a second ingredient or third or fourth to enhance the stew. Eventually he has to decide when enough is enough, when the ingredients are just right, when it’s simmered and cooked long enough…when it’s complete.

He’s looking for a finished product that sizzles with great dialogue and a lot of conflict. One thing I noticed Sorkin repeated often is the author creates a character who should have desires and ambition, and in order to make the story interesting you just keep putting obstacles in front of him, ones he has to overcome in order to get to the  next scene. To me it sounded a lot like motivation and conflict. I was touched by the idea that he never really came out and used that terminology. Why? Because sometimes we hear the same thing so often it loses meaning. Instead he insinuated a fresh way of saying throw every obstacle in the hero’s way and watch his character develop as he meets his challenges. Another way of saying GOAL-MOTIVATION-CONFLICT?

Sorkin referred to Aristotle's work, which I admit I was unfamiliar with at the time. But what I did was how much what he quoted sounded much like the things I’ve heard so often from Joseph Campbell’s works (The Hero’s Journey).

So all writing styles may have changed since Aristotle's time, but the theory of writing hasn't changed much. A lot of instructors find ways to say things differently because people learn differently. If one person talks about goal, motivation, and conflict, and somebody else puts it in other terms, you may absorb the information better one way than you would another. The understanding curve changes with the words that are used. Someday (if you haven’t already) you're going to have that “Ah-ha” moment and realize exactly that is what’s happening.

So when I think of Aaron Sorkin I immediately think of awesome dialogue. The man is a dialogue hound. That's what he writes best, and I don't think anybody does it better. He started going to the theater, hearing music in the dialogue. When he began writing plays, the words in the dialogue  intrigued. He claims he is not very good at description. So his description is focused in the dialogue.

 To him it is the dialogue and the interaction that spurs the action, shows the character, challenges the viewer to read more in the character’s words and behavior. In dialogue, the reader or observer gets to know the character, begins to understand what the character is going through by watching his response physically, emotionally, and verbally to those things happening to him and the people around him.

You have to be able to read other people to get what he’s saying because not every character says what he means. Being a good judge of character means that you're capable of interpreting what they're saying and feeling—what they truly mean by their actions.

It's like putting a puzzle together. After you've got the pieces on the table, you're fully capable of matching those pieces together, but you're not going to see the whole picture until you put enough pieces together and it visually begins to make sense.

It’s especially difficult to interpret the characters’ motivation if you're not in that character’s point of view. If you’re writing a novel in a particular character's point of view, the advantage the readers have is they know what the character knows. The reader sees the world and understands only what the point of view character understands and sees.

Books these days are totally different than in the days when they were written in omniscient point of view, where the reader had some person standing above it all who saw and told the story to the readers. The narrator told the readers everything they needed to know about what was going on and about what the characters were feeling. The narrator even described how the characters reacted to each other.

Now, though we use multiple techniques, the most common method is writing a single point of view or two points of view or three points of view, but we stick to one character’s point of view so the reader only knows what's going on through that person. That technique actually brings you closer to the story because it puts you in that person's head, and allows you to understand what how that person, that character, is reacting to the situation he author put them in. It doesn't allow you to actually understand what the other people in the scene understand or  feel unless they tell, or the POV character interprets those things from what they see, hear, taste, touch or smell. The POV character must be the eye of the camera, seeing or feeling or reacting to the situation. It makes the reader take a more active part of the story.

I suggest reading "Maximum Impact" by Editor, Maureen Sevilla to see how to condense your work down to the integral part of the story, and check out her reading list.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Post 1 Technology, Creativity, Dialogue, Character, and Point of View…and What I’ve Interpreted from Aaron Sorkin

Attention Writers and Authors: This is a long Sunday morning analysis of dialogue, character, and point of view. It’s just some thoughts I put together…It’s not law. If you have something helpful to add, by all means, please leave a comment.

A little about technology and creativity first. Electronic devices can help you be more productive, but they can also hinder you with your work. I think about all the times I'm ready to sit down, and I really want to get into something creative, something that I had planned. I open my computer…

First thing that happens is I have to update something, or I have to make certain that the contacts are updated, or it's asking me a question, or it wants me to do something else. By the time I've gone through all that, I'm totally distracted. So, not having it attached to the Internet doesn't really help. Not having peace and quiet in the house doesn't help. Not getting sidetracked with other stuff around the house doesn't help. The only way to really deal with this is going through all of it making certain you're ready after all your equipment is ready to work for you. Or…

What I’ve started doing is dictating into my phone as soon as I wake up, while I’m making coffee, doing my mundane morning ablutions, and turning on the computer.
That being said I have friends who often write by hand like we did in the old days. We can pick up a pencil and a piece of paper or note pad anywhere and start with our idea immediately without interruption. Now there is the downside. You could break the tip of the pencil or your pen could run out of ink. Other than that, not much else can prevent you from moving forward. Therefore, I always have two pencils around, always have a backup pen, and plenty of paper to jot down my notes, because that seems to be the most effective way of actually writing without distraction from the minute I start. There are recent studies done with students that have determined handwriting notes is a more effective learning tool than keying notes into a tablet. There’s something about physically creating the words on paper that help the learning process. I feel it also helps the creative process. Like sculpting—feeling the object take shape and form.

How do you write? Do you start in the beginning and just think about it? I was listening to writer, Aaron Sorkin yesterday and some of the older interviews on videos that he had done, and I noticed he has a certain method or routine he goes through with all of his developmental writing. After listening to him, multiple times yesterday, I thought it probably was similar to all of our processes.

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He thinks about what he's going to do for a long time, planning it out in his head. I guess that's somewhat similar to the people who want to sit down and do an outline and get it all down on paper in some sort of order. Apparently he can remember exactly what he wants to do. It’s easier for him to move the story around in his mind so he can organize  the plot mentally before he actually sits down and writes the first draft. That doesn't stop him from thinking about the piece that he's going to write while he is watching ESPN and doing other things with his feet up with the music on, but he is thinking about where the story’s going. Sometimes he does mental erase sections, and uses backspace and delete in his head, then goes in and continues to reformat his thought process so he can move forward with the story. the way he wants to be sold and knows the end of the story when he sits down to write it which I think is pretty common to many authors. In my case, when I write, I have some idea where I want the story to go at the end, especially when I write romance. I know it's going to be a happily ever after. If it's part of a series, I know it has to segue into the next book. Continued

Return here tomorrow for Post 2