21 October 2011

Writing Magic

Last week I wrote about filming a script I had written for some online training I’m working on.
We were on a very small budget, so had one cameraman, a small studio and very few props.
We did a couple of practise runs and then filmed the scene a few times.  After that, as we just had one fixed camera position, the actors changed positions and we filmed the scene from the opposite direction, and finally moved things side-on to the camera and did one final take from that angle.
We had two scenarios to film, and the second followed the same pattern.  Finally we did a few minutes filming at a local store, to set the opening scene.
The whole thing was great fun.
A day or so ago I saw the final edited version.  It's really good, and I was thrilled with what we had accomplished in just over a week, from initial idea to finished product, especially considering it was all fitted in around other work.
I know absolutely nothing about filming, and I was blown away by how the different takes were edited together to create a finished product that flowed seamlessly.
To me this seems to parallel the ‘scaffolding’ we have in a novel.  As a writer we do our initial planning, our scrappy first draft, edits, additional ideas, more edits etc.
It’s hard for us to look at the finished work without seeing all this scaffolding, but the reader just sees the finished book, and views it in much the same way as I viewed the film, marvelling at how everything fits together so beautifully.
There are magic moments in writing.  I’m still not totally sure whether they are down to ‘the muse’, our subconscious working it out and only letting us in on it much later, or pure luck.  But when it happens it feels as though someone has sprinkled pixie dust over the words, and you have magic.
Here’s an example to explain what I mean, and I’m sure you will have experienced this as well.  From my earliest Lives Interrupted drafts Dru has a secret that he doesn’t share with Kate until late in the book.  She is aware he has kept something back, but not what.
During later drafts (while deepening Kate’s character arc), a friend suggested adding an event to show her initial fearless and outgoing character to contrast the changes.  I had an idea for this and wrote it into an existing scene, but it was a while before I realised how completely it fitted, like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  It answers the question why Dru kept his secret, and acts like a mirror image of his experience.  Pure magic!

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