Thursday, December 07, 2006

Characterisation - A starting point

Knowing a character's background helps you figure out their voice.

That's because the way a person speaks reflects their interests. The metaphors they use, the subjects they talk about, and the grammatical structure of how they talk about them.

Examples ... A journalist who asks incisive questions, likes finding out facts, and enjoys talking about current events. A computer programmer whose sentences are logical and precise. In real-life, I've recently noticed how much I use television shows and script-writing techniques in conversation. I compared a job situation to working on a 'West Wing' election campaign; if I want to know about someone's past, I ask "What's their backstory?" Frankly, it's begun to irritate me.

Conclusion: if a person's focused (or obsessive) about what they're interested in, their speech becomes more one-dimensional. Which is great, because it makes them easier to characterise, ... and not so good if you're a real person.

What else affects speech patterns? Class, education, temperament, ethnicity, friends. There's a whole bunch of continuums that are useful to think about - does this person have high or low self-esteem? How certain or ambivalent are they? Where do they fit on continuums like:

- caring/selfish
- honest/deceitful
- ambitious/contented
- direct/passive-aggressive
- clear thinking/fuzzy thinking
- practical/dreamer?

When two people meet, they also talk about the things they have in common - which can be their social group or it can be shared interests. And what they talk about can be the thing they care most about at that moment. That's possibly not so useful for creating conflict in a scene, but it gives me two good questions for figuring out a scene's starting point, to create a sense of reality.

What do these people have in common?
What do they care about most, right now?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Limit - "... slide"

I just got to a section of the script I've been dreading - and it seems to be going fast, painless and good. I have much relief at this.

Also, a tip (perhaps applicable only to me): I find that if I'm blocked on a script, I actually get a lot of work done if I take a train up to the Kapiti Coast. The secret is to not bring anything else to read or do . There's something about boredom that really forces me to write.

Commuting. Environmentally friendly and creative.
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Time to celebrate

The good news is my hands are now pain-free most of the time. There is no bad news.

This is just the end of the first stage. Now I know that if there's pain, it'll go away if I manage it right. I don't freak out about it. The next stage is to focus on diet and exercise, to get healthy and take care of myself.

It's been a tough three years. I want to thank:

- Sean, for helping me get a great job where I could start to pushing myself.
- My physio at the Te Aro Hand clinic who taught me that while all pain is just in your head, some pain is more in your head than others.
- Cathy, for connecting me with someone who'd been through it too.
- And all my friends and family, who put up with me.

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