Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Do You See Your Story?

The other day, in a comment, Karen G referred to a character as 'wanting more screen time.' This made sense to me, as I say things like that about my characters all the time. Enough time spent talking to Captain Film Major about story development and movies, and such things worm their way into one's vocabulary.

Very commonly, I'll refer to my characters, "waltzing into the scene," as though they strolled onto it from the wings. I've probably also said "And such-and-such enters from stage left," and I have a sneaking suspicion I've said, "They want to change the blocking!"

On the other hand, I have never said, "So-and-so wanted more page space," or "I thought it would be a shorter scene until such-and-such demanded five more inches to discuss the issue."

The way I view my writing, it seems, has been inescapably influenced by my time working with theater. Characters, for me, come on and off from the wings (maybe explaining my care with noted entrances and exits), and sometimes I feel like my book is a fleshed out script, with lots of dialogue and important actions but details other than general notes and stage directions not always present.

How do you see your stories? What made you start seeing things that way?


  1. What a great observation! I don't really know how I see my stories in the beginning, you know, the planning stages. Ideas form as blurred images, as through an out-of-focus camera lense. The first draft is pretty much like that. Once I begin revisions, though, and get to know the characters better, the scenes come into sharper relief. At that point, I guess I see the story animated (not cartoonish, but more three-dimensional), playing out like a movie.

    Interesting! I'll be thinking about this all day :)

  2. I see mine like a movie. I can visualize the characters and their actions. I also use a lot of dialogue. I probably need to add in some more details, which is what I'm trying to do with my rewrites.

  3. I suppose I see my chararcters and scenes like...well, bits of life. They bloom in my mind and walk around inside my head. It's like flashes of a movie but somehow more tangible.

  4. I think of my characters as real people. So that's how I try to write their scenes. As if they were living, breathing, in that space. Sometimes it works...

  5. I'm with Susan, I see my stories as movies. Problem is I tend to write them as movies as well and it takes a lot of editing on the cutting room floor to make it work.

  6. That's very cool. I see mine like music videos. Bits and pieces rolling while appropriate lyrics play in the background. I don't know why. It just happens that way.

  7. Interesting question, and gosh thanks for mentioning my name lol! For me it's a combination of the action that I see and the dialogue that I hear. I hear voices. Doesn't everybody? Never music, though.

  8. Nicole -- The movie idea seems to be a common way of viewing things, which makes a lot of sense, since the storytelling aspects are similar and it's visual. I'm glad to inspire some thoughts. :)

    Susan -- Movie visualization makes a lot of sense.

    L.T. -- 'Flashes of life' is an interesting way of putting it. I know what you mean.

    Elena -- I understand what you're saying. It makes sense.

    Piedmont -- I'd be interested to see what you mean when you say 'I write them as movies.' I'm not sure what that would look like.

    KAH -- That sounds so cool.

    Karen -- My pleasure. I think most writers hear voices. Not that that sounds crazy or anything.

  9. I have to put myself inside of the story sometimes to figure out what happens next. If I pretend I'm our main character I can see exactly how things are supposed to go down.

  10. LnL -- That's interesting. I don't know if I would ever be able to quite 'place' myself in the story in that manner.