too sharp for my own good

So while I was in Scotland, I had a script of my own to sketch, and one that William had written to go after it. The script I wrote is an argument between two characters who are not my domain. They are William’s, and the script he wrote was a finale to the argument.

I just now realized I’ve never explained these divisions. We’ve been working on the book that has become Dragon’s Fall for around seven years. Most of the major characters have been claimed by their creator, who has final say over all of their words and actions. Depending on how you define major characters, I think I have authority over about 60% of the cast, so it might seem odd that William is the primary writer for the project. But there are reasons: 1) The whole story was his idea. 2) There is sort of a main character, and he belongs to William. 3) The reason we decided to change it to a comic was to stop me from monopolizing the writing and inventing more characters.

Anyway, back to these scripts I was looking at while I was on holiday. I was happily sketching the first of the two, but I decided I needed to read over the second one before I finalized anything to make sure they would flow together properly. When I read the second script my initial reaction was “No! That’s not what happens! That’s terrible!” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s a good script, and my own perception was at fault for that reaction.

One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer of fiction is that I hate when language is used imprecisely. Well, during descriptions and action sequences this is fine, but when it comes to dialogue, and especially the words of William’s characters, it leaves me at a serious disadvantage.

You see, these characters have a realistically weak grasp of the use of the English language, and when they become emotional they should throw words about in an impulsive way that I cannot possibly bring myself to actually put to paper. And in fact, I don’t know if I could write that way if I tried. I’ve never been that angry, and if I was, I’d probably lose the use of my tongue altogether. There is no direct route from my emotions to my mouth. My words are always, always filtered through my brain.

But when I read something done differently, I can see the art and the truth of it…eventually.

Whenever my characters argue, they do it the way I would. Each sentence is a genuine attempt to clarify their point of view to the opposition. Each sentence is precise. But this is not how most people argue, and it was my mistake to try and impose this pattern onto William’s characters.

So because I was thinking about the words of the first script in the way that I naturally do, the second script was jarring in its naked emotion. But when I allowed it to change my perspective of the situation, it not only made sense, but was deeply moving. I can’t create that, and that is why I need William’s contributions to this story.

After this change in perspective I looked back at my own script, and I decided it still worked. They’re being so articulate because this is a new iteration of an argument that they have been building for a while now. They’ve honed their words over time, but the emotions behind them haven’t dulled, and every time they argue they realize more how different they are, and the emotions become stronger. A secondary factor is that I want these ideas to be expressed clearly in the script because I want it to tell our readers about the context in which these characters live.

My characters aren’t always perfectly articulate. I’m certainly not. Sometimes they don’t understand the subject they’re speaking on. Sometimes their perspective is so far off the norm that words mean different things to them than they do to others. Sometimes their state of mind warps their perceptions. But these all have one similarity – the ideas filter through the brain, and it is some fault in this filter that makes them hard to understand.

I could go on for a while about what exactly in my nature limits me in this way, but that’s not what this is about. This is about that one moment of realization, and how much William contributes to our shared creation.

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