Monday, January 9, 2012
In my first creative writing class freshman year of college, I received some good advice that I've held onto: If characters are talking to each other, have them doing something unrelated to their conversation. Inevitably, what they were doing will infuse the conversation, and their actions will seem to take on greater meaning.
We had an assignment to write such a scene, and mine was a man and his daughter, home from college for Christmas break, painting her new bedroom while talking about school. I had no idea where the scene was going to go, or what the mood was, but I quickly realized that it was tense and awkward. I then created the backstory in my head: her parents had recently separated, and her dad moved out while she was away at college. She'd come home, and her reality had shifted.
Our actions and silence communicate just as much as our words do. At least, I wish they did. I feel like I frustrate those around me with my silence. If only I had telepathic powers. Then I could zap my thoughts and feelings into people's heads. And I'm sure they would tell me, "Okay, you were better off not saying anything."