Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.
Today: Christian’s experience of a scene-writing exercise had a visceral effect on him:
This week, shit got real. Even though I was geeky engineering major at LSU, I took great pride in all my hard earned A’s in my English Lit classes. Before my last semester, I decided to try a “correspondence” English class (for you youngster out there, this was before the times of the interwebs and was a snail mail based way to get college credit). I was really hoping on carrying a light load during my last semester giving me more time to focus on my kazoo translation of Van Halen’s Diver Down album (again for those youngsters, an album is fancy, old timey name for a playlist). However, this “correspondence” class ended up being an epic fail. My first assignment – I read the book, wrote my essay, mailed it to the teacher, and waited for her to tell me just how awesome she thought I was. I got a “D” and preceded to drop that class like Van Halen drops lead singers (youngsters – VH has had 5 different singers if you count Dave Lee Roth 3 times).
This week’s Quest focused on finding our “Narrative Voices”. After reading the lectures, I knew I had this – tone, style, and voice are all in my writer’s wheelhouse. Our assignment was to write a scene for our stories expressing our voice in a manner consistent with our genre. I made the descent down to my storage room / office to write an important Act 2 scene that I’ve been chomping at the bit to do for a month now. After I finished, I sat back in my metal folding chair basking in the brilliance spewed across my computer screen, then I made a fateful decision and shared this genius with my wife. (nasally voice) “Is this a suspense thriller, I thought you were writing a comedy?” OH SHIT! It’s Senior Year English lit all over again. This ain’t as easy as it seems and/or I ain’t as good as I think I am.
I took another whack at my pages heavily abusing my online thesaurus. Alas, this newer version read like a sexy tech manual, which I guess would be okay if I changed my characters into robots and set it in a strip club on the moon (hey, I’m generating story ideas). I took one more pass, then just said, “fuck it” and posted it online to share with my sweet, clean fellow Questers.
The coolest thing about this week is that we, Questers, have gabbed about our story concepts and characters for almost a month now. This exercise was great not only to find our narrative voices but to also get a better feel for each other’s stories. Let me tell you what, these mofo’s can write, and shit’s getting real, yo!
Rubber meets the road. Petal hits the metal. Shit’s getting real. However you typify it, when you move from the theory of writing a story to the actual experience of writing it, that is a whole new level of reality.
Last week we immersed ourselves in screenwriting Style. As Chris notes, I directed the Questers to take on a scene from their story in part to test out their Narrative Voice, but also to get their feet wet with their characters in the context of their story universe.
Another metaphor: Putting flesh on bones.
Rubber. Petal. Flesh. That’s where we’re headed, beckoning us on the horizon. Still learning a character-based approach to screenwriting, then into Prep. But pretty soon…
The shit will be getting real, indeed.
Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.
About Christian: From Louisiana, now in Seattle. Turns off street lights with his mind. Regrets not learning the tuba – TUBAS ROCK! Storyteller. @cmfontenot.