What Do You Need to Know?

Image Credits:  A big thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos for the Chandler’s Ford Today post.  All other pictures are from Pixabay or Pexels.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s good to welcome the Chameleons back to Chandler’s Ford Today. The second part of their compiled interviews takes a look at the technical aspects of staging a production. Topics covered include lighting, sound, set design, and props. Hope you enjoy. Many thanks to them for the photos and info!

Looking forward to going back to seeing their fabulous productions again in due course. I am missing my “CFT works outings” with my lovely editor, Janet Williams.

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Always nice to have a compliment – many thanks to the Chameleon Theatre Group for the following:-

Great second piece today from Allison Symes in Chandlers Ford Today, utilising Sheila’s superb series of articles about all things behind the scenes.

Feature Image - Part 2 - The Chameleons Say Hello... to the Technical Side
It’s a joy to share Part 2 from the Chameleon Theatre Group for my CFT post this week. I love behind the scenes looks at most things being the nosey parker that I am so interviews like this give me a glimpse into different aspects of life. I find that endlessly fascinating.

Now what insights into your characters do you need to reveal to your reader? I’ve found it useful to work out what it is I need to know and what a reader needs to know. The two are generally not the same. I need to know, for example, a character is lazy. My reader just needs me to show the character demonstrating that.

Sometimes a character does need to “tell” something usually to another character, revealing something of their background and motivations. For example, in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it is the ghosts who unlock the sadness behind Scrooge and which go some way to explaining why he became the man he did – and why he needed to be set free from that. I’ve always found the scene where Scrooge BEGS to not be shown any more incredibly moving. But we are reliant on the ghosts telling Scrooge his own past to make him face up to it. The story then becomes whether Scrooge changes or not.

So what do you need to know about your characters? How can you best show things to a reader? In many ways your characters act their scenes out. I’ve found that thought useful to help me make sure my characters only reveal things that they would be reasonably expected to know or deduce. They see what they see. They do what they do. They deduce based on reason. The readers draw conclusions from that.

Good support for the applause for carers round my way, well done all. Also got to see two bats fly overhead. That’s a bonus. I like bats. Much misunderstood creatures though you have to admit they wouldn’t get very high in the All Time Graceful Flying Stakes! (Some pun intended).

I’m not struggling to write at the moment but I am struggling to read much. I know I’m not alone on this right now, I also know it will pass, but it has bemused me a bit. I tend to read more when upset etc, especially the humorous prose, so this has surprised me.

Looking forward to sharing further publication news next week.

Am preparing non-fiction material at the moment so will “indulge” in some flash fiction writing at the weekend. I like the contrast between the two types of writing and it keeps me on my toes. Never a bad thing that.

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My CFT post this week will be Part 2 – The Chameleons Say Hello… to the Technical Side. Our local amateur theatre group have been conducting a series of interviews which I’ve compiled into articles. This week’s one looks at lighting and sound amongst other delights. Link up on Friday. And I must add I am really looking forward to their next production whenever that may be.

Insights into how things work are always fascinating especially if you’re curious (and I SO am!). A writer needs to have at least a basic level of curiosity as to what makes people (and therefore characters) tick to be able to write at all, I think. That curiosity develops into what would Character A really do if push came to shove. It is always fun to find out!

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When it is possible to do so, I enjoy my “CFT works outings” with my lovely editor, Janet Williams, to the excellent productions staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group, who are featured in my CFT post tonight. Am really looking forward to resuming being able to do these again!

Janet and I have enjoyed National Theatre Live productions too. So what it is about plays that attracts a flash fiction writer then?

Simply, it’s because it is huge fun spotting the pivotal moment in a play when you know everything is going to change, whether for better or worse. Working out what the tipping point is helps fiction writers of all kinds too.

My tipping points can be the very last word of a story (Calling the Doctor is an example of that). It is often the line before I deliver a punch line or finale which has a twist in it. It is sometimes towards the beginning of the tale. My Punish the Innocent with its opening paragraph has the reader knowing from that point that everything is going to change dramatically for the characters in the story. What follows through then is how.

Have fun working out where the best place is to put your tipping point. Early can work well because your reader will want to follow through on the outcome. Right at the end can also work well because you have carried off a very successful twist ending if you can keep a reader guessing until then.

 

Time for some one liners, though I will admit to sharing one on the Association of Christian Writers page earlier today.

1. The dragon decided to turn veggie.
2. The house was empty because the walls seeped.
3. Mary decided she had a talent for art but she was alone in that view.
4. The genie took one look at who had rubbed the magic lamp and vanished inside again.
5. Treasure was meant to be found, not bite hard the person who found it.

Hope you enjoy. One-liners can of course be used as a writing exercise as an opening or closing line.

 

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Masks are symbolic of drama of course but you could argue characters in stories sometimes wear them. (Best one for me here remains Severus Snape and I’m not going to say more though I strongly suspect this would not be a plot spoiler by now!).

How do your characters hide the traits they themselves aren’t proud of? How do they convince other characters they really are “the business” when perhaps deep down they know full well they’re not? If they are a double agent, how do they convince both sides they’re working for them?

Masks can be used by characters in more subtle ways. A character is heartbroken for some reason but they have to carry on and appear to be “strong” to help someone else cope. How do they do that? DOES it help? When does the mask come off? What are the consequences?

Now there’s definitely a story or several in there! Have fun…

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Fairytales With Bite – What Fairytales Don’t Do

Fairytales don’t gloss over the reality of human nature. So many of them show cruelty (Cinderella and Snow White to name but two) and there is no glossing over this. Others show poverty. Others show the importance of love.

Think about Hansel and Gretel. It has always bugged me why the father didn’t show the stepmother the door for even suggesting abandoning the children to their fate but there you go. I’ve mentioned before Disney couldn’t film the stories as originally written. Fairytales were often (and still can be) used as warning tales. We talk about wolf like behaviour – a nod to the Big, Bad Wolf I think.

Fairytales, despite their magical elements then, are realistic about behaviours and motivations then. They don’t flatter. There is a blunt honesty about them that appealed to me even as a kid. The ring of truth always did hold appeal to me.

I couldn’t get on with characters that were too good which is why I always found it easier to sympathise with vain Amy rather than saintly Beth in Little Women. (Before you ask, I was sorry Beth died. I thought that whole storyline was beautifully done and I also liked the way the impact of her death was shown too).

I’ve always loved those tales where great wrongs were put right. Even as a kid I knew full well that didn’t always happen in life. There is a comfort to fairytales I think that shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to things like that.

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This World and Others –

How Does Your Created World Help or Hinder Your Characters? 

This is an interesting question because it can be taken in several directions. Firstly, think about the political landscape of your world. If the politics define that a character from an area should never associate with anyone from another area because of past history etc., what would happen when characters are forced to ignore all that and go against what their society would expect from them?

Secondly, there is the geographical aspect too. If you’ve got a long journey to take and there are mountains in the way, some thought has to be given as to how your characters tackle those (and that does include finding another route of course).

Thirdly, the state of development in your created world makes a difference too. Your character is off on a quest (note: it is never for something as mundane as nipping to the shops for a pint of milk, your character must have real problems to solve!). Right, that’s fine, they’re all geared up to go but how do they do it? What is the transport like? Must they walk? Are horses considered sacred and only certain kinds of people can ride them? (Naturally here your character will not be of that class and again will defy expectations here. There should be consequences).

Think about what your character needs to be able to fulfil their quest. Think about how what is around them will help or hinder them. Usually it will be a question of both. A created world will have something practical your character can use (otherwise there is no chance of them fulfilling the quest).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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