Monday, March 29, 2010
I got my MFA at the cineplex
What can this guy (the fellow with the supercilious smirk and the cool specs) teach a writer about writing?
Okay, okay. So my title has already ticked off all the MFA survivors out there, and the Dude in Black is probably a male model who knows beans about directing. Bear with me.
I love movies. I love television. Yeah, I'm a writer, and I admit that. I love both movies and television because I love, love, love a story. I am addicted to stories, and I'm not picky about format, though I am picky about quality and authors.
The greatest thing since sliced bread, when it comes to movies today, is the bonus parts of a DVD. The director's commentary -- oooh. So helpful, but time-consuming. I seldom have time to watch a movie once, much less twice. And then there are the deleted scenes.
Deleted scenes are the bestest things (yes, I know, no such word as bestest). I save them for last, when I've watched the movie and have decided whether it's a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. If it's a thumbs-down, I weep momentarily for the wasted time that I shall never get back.
Thumbs-up? I jump on those deleted scenes like a puppy on a pair of Manolo Blahnik stilettos. It is amazing to see what the director thought he (or she) needed while in the throes of creativity, and then decided, eh, newp.
And usually the decision is pulverizingly, obviously right. The scene was just so much fluff and didn't propel the story on.
Writers (uh, I'm talking to me, now) can learn a thing or two from that.
First, I shouldn't mind the effort of creating a scene that may well later be axed. Maybe I needed to write that sucker in order for me to better understand the character. Or the setting. Or the backstory. After all, at least it didn't cost me film and the salaries of a movie crew and movie stars.
Second, sometimes you don't know what you don't need until you've processed everything. That's why they chop scenes at the editing stage.
Third, like any good lab rat, I can learn from my mistakes (well, theoretically, anyway.) Maybe I can realize, as I'm writing (or better yet, as I'm planning!), that I don't need to bog the reader down in a scene that is only important to me and to my understanding of the world I'm creating.
Probably this will happen when I also find oil under the petunias and subsequently spend my days on a beach with a cute waiter bringing cool drinks and delicious munchies. But a girl can dream, no?