Friday, September 5, 2008

Stripping Down To Honesty

I’ve been working on my never-ending rewrite, and it’s kicking my butt.

I’m a rewrite addict, and I mean with everything. It takes me forever to respond to e-mails. I always find myself going over each word, each line, and each paragraph, making sure it’s the best fit.

I believe the reason I don’t blog as often as I’d like is because it takes an entire day, sometimes two, to write an entry I’m somewhat semi-satisfied with. Even once I’ve finished writing, I have the hubby read it over for grammar, spelling and punctuation.


I guess I’m trying to get it right.

Uh-oh, foot-in-mouth moment.

For the two of you who have been reading my blog, you might recall my little rant on the notion of being right, and how I don’t necessarily buy into it.

Let me explain...

With every script I rewrite, I brutally agonize over finding the “right” words, the “right” situations to put my characters in, and the “right” moment to reveal each plot point.

Again, there is no right (just like there is no spoon... sorry, I digress). As this blog and my production company are RIGHTFULLY called It Is What It Is, it is what it is.

And what IS that?


“Well, that’s just semantics,” you say.

Maybe... Maybe not.

While I’ve spent wasted hours trying to select the right word(s) to use, I never stopped to ask: right for who (or whom)? I’ve attended a number of classes and workshops where emphasis is placed on choosing just the “right” descriptive word, or the “best” name, or the “stronger” adjective.

Sure, there are probably some readers out there who’ll pick up the script and comment on the great use of the English language, but who gives a shit?

I’m not writing a dissertation. I’m telling a story. I’m attempting to bring you into a world filled with people whose lives are all screwed up. These people make horrible decisions that they never seem to learn from until it’s way too late. They say and do anything they can to get what they want... what they need.

In order for me to SELL you on this world and its inhabitants, you need to be able to connect. That connection is called honesty.

Am I being true to every moment I present in the story? Do the characters say what they would truly say, or am I just looking for a word or phrase that will catch the reader’s eye - that “sound” the best? Do they behave in a manner that even I, the writer, despise, though it’s true to their nature and their environment? Do I recognize them as people who get under my skin with their annoying little habits? Or those who always have some smart ass remark for every day of the week? Do my characters make mistakes - I mean huge ones? And do they sometimes care only about themselves and their needs?

And what about the world? Is it this little perfect, happy-go-lucky place where everything is bright and sunny? Or are these places lacking? Lacking love? Lacking strength? Lacking happiness? Lacking true definition? Are there imperfections and blemishes so deep it causes us to cringe and want to run away? Are these worlds unloveable, unlikeable, but, oh, so real?

My loyalty is to the characters - to my story. Every word that spills forth onto the page should reflect who and what the characters believe in and feel, and where they live, breathe, eat and shit. It doesn’t matter what I, the writer, feel, or even what the readers want. I must remain true to my characters - the people who now exist, for better or worse. If I make the reader feel uncomfortable, I’ve done my job - I’ve got them FEELING. And to me, feelings are the true essence of honesty. It’s that gut reaction. It’s like a first love, a first anything.

Maybe there is some truth in the saying, Honesty is the best policy. I do know that when I sit down to work on a rewrite, in addition to making sure each character is fully developed, and that the structure and formating is strong, I will be scouring each word, each line and each scene to make sure that honesty is at its core.

But let it be known, being honest takes lots, and lots and lots of work and energy, but that’s a post for another day.


Don said...

Don't I know the feeling. While writing my manuscript I almost stopped permanently because I was seriously frustrated at the amount of frustration that overcame me.

Honesty is the best policy. It breaks through in a most heartfelt way, I imagine.

You are a perfectionist.

Tracy said...

Yeah, I just wish perfection came along with it.