Monday, February 27, 2006

Mutiny against the Playwright

I’ve been fighting with my characters all weekend.

We’ve been throwing subtext at each other wildly, and now, over-the-top speeches, curse-words, and far too many clichés have landed all over my office. What a mess!

“Don’t you dare make me pregnant!” one of my characters threatens indignantly, “You know me better than that! I wouldn’t sleep around without protection! Besides, that’s so lame, so ‘Friends,’ so desperate!”

She’s right. I am desperate. I was flowing along smoothly, but my eyes were bent so inwardly that I didn’t look up till—bam!—I hit a dam right in front of me.

“Oh, I saw that coming,” one of my smarty-pants characters smirks at me, “Any dope coulda seen that. Clear from the start.”

Jeez, you just don’t get any respect from your characters, these days.

“How long are we going wait here?” inquires another character. “I have depth, you know, and integrity,” he informs me, “I can’t possibly sit around like this, doing nothing. Let me pray, or pace, or at least, take a pee, for godsakes!”

Yeah. They all want their memorable “moment.” They all want to be “stars.” Characters can be so damn demanding.

“Got a sec?” asks another character awkwardly, “Like, what am I doing with this knife? Cause I’m supposed to be funny, right? So why’d you stick me with this knife? It’s too big for cutting celery—not that I mind cutting celery, if you need celery cut — but this isn’t a celery knife. And I don’t wanna hurt anybody, I swear, cause I’m no psycho-creep. I’m just comic relief.”

“You’re probably going to stab my baby,” says the first character wryly.

No, there’s no baby! And that knife—here, hand it over to me carefully, that’s right, nice and slow, and I’ll shut it back in the drawer. See. No knife. No baby. Nothing.

18 repartee:

Blogger mysticgypsy wrote...

Hi Frankengirl!
You do mean the imaginary (or should I say the imaginary-real..u know what I mean) ones right?

Yeah..I know the feeling when they can be so demanding! It is so annoying when they refuse to listen to you...um..when after all, you created them in the first place hmph! Nevertheless, I always find it really sad when they die (or rather when I hurt them in a story or play).

2/27/2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Hi, mysticgypsy! :D

What?!!! They’re not real? OMG!!!

Yes, you’d think we’d have more control over our very own creations, but they do seem to take on a life of their own, don’t they? I can definitely be a wimp about letting anything *truly* bad happen to them – oh, and they know it, too, hehe!

I’m so glad you understand! ;)

2/27/2006 6:03 PM  
Blogger actonbell wrote...

I enjoyed this:) Sounds like a work of love.

2/27/2006 6:12 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Ah, actonbell, I can't let on that I love them! (They take such advantage as it is.) - ;)

2/27/2006 6:42 PM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

Hey FG,

Don't shout for my dropping of the face of the Earth.

Man, can I say at least the voices in your head are talking to you! I think I've narked off my inner narrative so much it's on strike.

With out inner conversations the world a very quite place.

2/28/2006 8:25 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Hey, Golgotha! Good to see you!

Yes, so true - without our inner conversations the world would be a quiet place indeed, too quiet! I puzzle over and work out many of my own questions via these so-called “characters” of mine - ;)

Best get your voices off strike! And when you fall of the face of the earth, where do you land, btw? Its soft cushy bottom??? :P

2/28/2006 8:34 AM  
Blogger Golgotha_Tramp wrote...

It's good to be able to split yourself out into "pure" personalities.

Crazy, bashful, flirtatious, scared, bold and sensible sit down with each and decide what to do. Although my sensible has been locked in a cupboard for some time now!

2/28/2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

What an interesting way to put it! I love the image of sitting down with each of our "selves" (over tea, perhaps?) - ;)

I agree – I believe we have many sides to ourselves, and each comes into play in different ways with different people and situations.

But if you’re going to lock Ms. Sensible in a cupboard, you mustn’t throw out the key!!!

2/28/2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger JLB wrote...

You sound like you're having so much fun!

2/28/2006 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Holly wrote...

You do sound like you're having fun--and I bet the results will be pretty rewarding for your audience as well.

2/28/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Hi, JLB! Ah, well, hitting a dam can be disconcerting, but so long as my characters don't sink the boat with their egos, hehe... I do wish they would help row more, but alas, the writer gets stuck with all the drudgery - ;)

2/28/2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Thanks, Holly - :) For the audience's sake, let's hope so. Recently, I was sitting (sweating) through a well-intentioned play that truly turned my stomach. I think a playwright has an obligation (to try, at least!) not to torment its audience (unless warning labels are visible).

2/28/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger The Poodle's Friend wrote...

Your smarty-pants character smirks? How very Draco Malfoy of him (or her?).

Loved this post.

2/28/2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Hello, TPF! Hello, Italy!

Well, she’s a she - but more than ready for a smirk-contest with Draco Malfoy - ;)

2/28/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Panacea wrote...

Your characters bossing over you, huh? You tell them whose the boss! :D

Hilarious post btw.

PS: Italy says hi...

2/28/2006 4:21 PM  
Blogger UltimateWriter wrote...

a wise writer once told me: Less is more but raw is even better!

2/28/2006 5:14 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

UW - Ah, I can go on a long tangent on how much I'm against workshop-ing plays to their own demise - till they're so mainstreamed and easy-to-digest that they're utterly tasteless...but for the moment, I'll spare you!

Panacea - Hi back at ya! Your comment reminded me of this poem by Emily Dickinson, which may or may not relate, depending on how a writer views her own characters:

----

Me from Myself - to banish -
Had I Art -
Impregnable my Fortress
Unto All Heart -

But since myself - assault Me -
How have I peace
Except by subjugating
Consciousness?

And since We're mutual Monarch
How this be
Except by Abdication -
Me - of Me?

Emily Dickinson

---

:) Of course, this may be taking the writer/character relationship a bit far...!

2/28/2006 5:57 PM  
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