Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Out of the Darkness

More from Hollywood . . .

Continuing from my last post, here are some more words to think about from the conversations I heard at Central Coast Writers Conference:

Author/screenwriter, Doug Richardson and Screenwriter, Rob Edwards stated, “The DNA of a writer is in the first 6 pages."

  1. What makes your writing different and special after you’ve learned the craft?
  1. Think of the top 10 movies that resonate with you. Break them down and define that something you have to add to that conversation.
This seems like a more incisive way to evaluate your writing than trying to define it by finding 10 books that are like yours that you can refer to when pitching/marketing your novel. It gets you deeper into your own writing and thereafter you may need to tweak your writing to bring it into better alignment with your deepest reasons/motivations for writing what you’ve chosen to write; your art. At least it did for me.

Now, they were talking about movies but I applied this to my novel writing (with the hope of someday seeing it translated to film).

  • I thought immediately of one movie that resonates with me. Blade Runner (based on the short Sci-Fi story by Philip Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). It’s a story that takes the reader through the dark recesses of the human psyche into the basic human feelings of empathy, love and loneliness. It touches on the crucial questions: What is reality? and What is illusion? Trying to think of 10 novels like mine left me clueless. Maybe because I'm more visual and the images of Blade Runner are more visceral. And, I haven't found anyone who is writing like I'm writing. I'm sure they are out there, I just haven't found them.
I looked at my novel Dance the Dream Awake with their questions and this movie in mind. I broke it down to its basic elements. My story does deal with the dark recesses of the human psyche (especially my short stories). I am concerned with reality versus illusion. And a love story emerges from the dark—with hope for a positive resolution.

  • As to their second question, how do I add to that conversation? I return to the ancient wisdom of indigenous people that I glean through their stories and images (minus the superstition) and add a supernatural element.
So, I work at bringing ancient secrets forward, then re-imagining them in the light of today’s scientific advances. Out of the dark nightmares my protagonist Tessa is having, emerges the story, Dance the Dream Awake. As she descends into the modern Mayan world of the Yucatan jungle—she has to metaphorically descend (just like the ancient Maya in their rituals) into “the underworld” where she goes through trials. She has to use her skills and intelligence to outwit the “demons” (metaphorically--no demons in my writing) that await her, in hopes of being put back together; restored to wholeness.

There were questions from my last post as to how you keep the writing business separate from the art part. I think this answers it: 

  • Rob Edwards and Doug Richardson’s advice: keep churning your idea until you have the angle that people will want to read, and that will sell.
The business informs your writing. It doesn’t change what you’re writing; your art/way of viewing the world, it helps you better define it.

Do you agree or not? Add your two cents (or three or four) in the comments.