Writing for actors is an act of intimacy.
When you take this approach, you are peering into an artist’s heart and soul… and you are allowing them to peer into yours. You ask questions of their characters – detailed glimpses into their lives, for these glimpses provide you with not only what is happening in the present, but what has happened in the past… and in the world of They Live Among Us, backstory – the character’s lives, their fecund histories – is everything.
It is a little frightening, this transparency. Yesterday, at the table read, I revealed a suspicion of mine in regard to a character’s backstory. It is a dark and terrible moment in his past; the reveal was unsettling for all.
It is much safer to keep things gay and light. To reveal something so dark is to open one’s self up for inspection, for criticism, and for judgement. Such reveals are an articulation of the struggle within. To commit this act is to stand there naked, for all to see.
This intimate act of writing is as if you have been speaking with a person for a while… and you move in close to them… and discover that they are wearing a scent. You look around, and realize that others in the room do not know this scent. It is subtle. It is only for those who are allowed so close.
Intimacy is not without risk. Shedding defenses, stripping off layers places you in a position of vulnerability. What if you are rejected? What if the sum of you is considered to be aesthetically or morally displeasing? What if you are found to be ugly?
As I prepare to incorporate notes and thoughts from the read, I also prepare to bare my mind, my heart, my soul. My friend Dari says “Write like you’re naked,” and never before have words rung so true.
Now, go write.
HRH, Princess Scribe
Very nice technique I hadn’t considered before. A re-write that comes from interviewing the characters.
Now that I’m embracing this process, I can’t imagine working any other way… well, I can. But… it’s not the same.
Did you read about the way Peter Berg directed Friday Night Lights? Very much like you describe your work. I have written to him begging him to cast me in his next project. Maybe I’ll have to write to you, too.
😉 You know where to find me…
I agree that having the back story for at least the central characters is crucial. It also makes writing more fun, because you can then ask what in their past motivates them. I also believe that writing is the ultimate expression of vulnerability. The expression I personally use is: “Write Fearlessly”, I have it on a post-it stuck on my iMac. I love “Write Like You’re Naked” and just added that one too. Have fun with the rewrites, I’m doing the same here. XO
We’re starting quite a collection of “write on” sayings!