… or why it makes sense
While not unusual for creatives to work on diverse projects, my connection between writing horror movie screenplays, absurdist youth fiction and heavily-research historical non-fiction may seem to be pushing the boundaries of focus. I, however, disagree. I’ll tell you why.
One of my key strengths is dialogue, and screenplays allow me to push the limits of dialogue to milk as much story out of them as I possibly can. I do this because as an avid horror movie watcher, I HATE poorly done exposition. Hate.
While the world of the movie is by its nature artificial, the dialogue shouldn’t be. Instead, it should be believable and yet still move the story forward. Dialogue, done right, can tell you worlds about the character without the viewer even realizing it. Done poorly, dialogue can yank the viewer right out of the movie.
I fully understand the show-don’t-tell philosophy, but dialogue for me is never a necessary filler. Instead, it’s a rich tool to inform the viewer of who the character is and why they will do what they will do.
I write youth fiction in a sense like a screenplay, but instead of allowing the director, cinematographer and art director to design the visuals of the scene, I give the privilege to the reader. I give just enough to set the stage and leave the rest to the imagination.
There are plenty of amazing writers with the gift of rich description at their disposal. I am not one of them. My fiction, rather, hinges on situations and challenges. While I provide important descriptions to the story, if a visual isn’t key, I leave it up to the reader’s imagination. Sometimes I don’t even tell reveal the gender of my characters. To this point, my stories are designed to adapt to the reader’s own experiences.
I don’t say there is a right or wrong way to write, but this type of minimalism is largely my style and what appeals to me. Of course there are times when the details of how someone or something looks will be essential to the story, but for the most part I leave that to the reader.
Here’s the irony. I’m actually a great collaborator and enjoy collaborative projects. This is ironic because writing is a lonely business. For hours at a time it’s me at a PC, alone, in my own head. This may sound strange, but when I write, I actually view the audience as a collaborative partner with me.
This is the one that seems especially non-congruous. How can non-fiction writing have any correlation to horror screenplays and absurdist kid stories?
Again, it comes down to collaboration. Non-fiction is by its nature collaborative, except that instead of other writers you’re collaborating with historical documents, personal accounts, and expert opinions. When I’m fully immersed in research, time stands still and I cease to exist, only connecting the dots. I love that feeling.
That’s My World
Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, I see all three of these outlets as interconnected, at least in my head. Creatively they feel connected to me. I do know that they each help the other two build.
I guess that’s my three-legged chair.