Sunday, May 27, 2007

Breakfast With My Antagonist

Following on from yesterday's post, and the essence of "human beings doing", Good Dog reminded me of how little amount of time we, in general, dedicate to the most simple things in life. Simple but important things like sunrises and sunsets, the beautiful sweet aroma of roses and jasmine, the smell of grass after rainfall, the first genuine warmth from the sun after winter, the distant peal of a church bell, the silence created by snow fall.

Don't have a garden, park or nature reserve nearby? Stuck in the city? Try the mellow aroma of freshly ground coffee from your local coffee shop, a warm breeze that takes you by surprise as you turn a corner, the stale but tantilising waft from pub extractor fans, the warm, intricate mix of street smells of after a summer shower, planes slashing the blue sky far above the sky-scrapers.

The fundamental element of just 'being' and not 'doing' is allowing the senses to 'do' while you just 'be'. When I am writing I find I always start at a very 'base level' and include sensuous elements (that is, 'of the senses' as opposed to sensual, although they've been known to creep in now and again too!). Even if these don't make it to the first or final draft they are always there in my brain arena, hopefully enabling me to 'be' wholly part of the script/story and not just a creative bystander.

I often think a state of 'being' is entered when I start to write on a new project. Although I am mentally busy, I am not physically 'doing' much. I wine and dine my characters - the difference between dinner with your protagonist and then your antagonist is amazing, and not necessarily what you would think; kids characters I take to the zoo, the park or the Natural History Museum; sometimes I just 'observe' the entire screenplay character list (supporting artistes included) meeting in my local coffee shop. How do they interact - even the ones who never meet 'on paper'? What do they drink and eat? What are they wearing? How do they sit? What do they talk (or not) about? I guess in my case, this stems from my performance background but it's quite an interesting thing to try out as it tends to give your characters weight and vision in future drafts; more than anything, it gives you a firm grip on their history and backstory.

And all this because you were just 'being' instead of 'doing'. Amazing.

I just suddenly remembered my school motto was "Be Still And Know". I think they possibly had a point.


  1. "Be still and know"? I'm detecting you are a posh bird from a posh school - my school's motto was "be still so I can give you a punch in the face you little swot"! ; )

    Motherhood offers many chances for "being" - when you see life from a child's perspective, it can be very humbling. Unfortunately, it also offers many chances for being kicked, bitten, peed and being chucked up on. But you gotta take the rough with the smooth and all that!

  2. My school was of the boarding variety in Scotland, strict as Hell, and I sat next to Princesses and Laydees all day long. And boy did we have a riot. Besides, didn't you go to a school of the slightly posh variety too, Lucy? ;)

    Looking forward to the humbling experiences of motherhood - the rest I'll deal with as they come along...yikes!