Insight Bombs and Rapid Fire Dialogue

The week’s events seem to be arranging themselves into place very well.  My editing project was reviewed yesterday morning and requires only a couple hours’ worth of tweaks before I can call it done.  Couldn’t finish it up at the studio though, because Anna, another editor, was booked in to work on her own project.  Just as well.

I drove home, ate lunch, then walked for 30 minutes down to Roncesvalles for a good long sit with my ‘Dick’ play at Roncy Bean.  Though I’ve had two or three table reads with it since I wrote the latest draft in May last year, It’s been 9 months since I actually re-wrote anything.  I packed up at 9:30 last night, having added 7 new pages of dialogue to the first two scenes.

I knew there’d be some tweaks here and there, but 7 pages!  I’m not even finished scene 2!  Funny.  I’m on my 8th draft of this play now.  Every time I’ve finished a draft, I always felt that it was done, but for a couple of tweaks.  It feels great to see with clarity where the holes are, that need to be filled.

In general, I felt the story structure was in good shape.  The scenes had a nice shape.  The characters were well drawn.  The problems with the play seem to come from the spaces in-between the beats of certain scenes – especially my first two scenes.  I skipped a few steps  as my protagonist fought to earn his victories.  I needed to turn the screws more.

He can still win, but he needs to fight harder for those wins.  In doing so, we learn more about what makes him tick, and more importantly, we learn far more about the characters who antagonize him.

Filling in these spaces also helped the cadence out.  There is a lot of heavy subtext in the writing.  Every single line was a loaded bomb of unvoiced insight.  Perhaps I was channelling Pinter here.  Problem is, that style of writing lends itself to big gaps between the lines of dialogue.  It takes time for all that insight to land on another character.  This slows down the pace considerably.  Pinter was a master at this.  I am not.

My solution has been to keep those gaps, let the insight bombs take their time to land, but instead of waiting in silence for the gap to close, I pepper that silence with rapid fire single word, or two word exchanges between the characters.  I’ve also removed as many of my ellipses (…) as I could get away with.  Ellipses = silence.  Silence must be earned, not given away like candy at Halloween.

I’ll be finishing my editing project this morning, and then I am keen to get back into my play.  I am excited to see what new discoveries I can make with it.

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