Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Rhythm of Great Storytelling

Some writers are natural-born storytellers and very good at translating their thoughts onto the page. I recently got to read a true professional's screenplays. I noticed something about the writing that stood out. Now I have read more scripts and manuscripts than I can count. When I read this writer's work, I was impressed and struck by a clear and distinct rhythm or "beat" to his ability to tell the story. It was in musical terms "pitch perfect," and as educated reader it stood out in an organic and unforced way. It is really hard to explain without showing an example, and it's not the sort of thing a simple example will explain anyway. I will try though. Each of the acts of the screenplay had a natural progression like going over a bell curve. As you "drove" up and over the curve, each point was punctuated right where it should be. I would say it's almost like building up to a mini-climax of sorts and then coming back down, but that is not exactly how a script or manuscript works. Yet this writer led the reader perfectly along through the upward and downward flow of the writing. It was so perfect with beautiful and natural dialog that you never notice anything about it that takes you out of the storytelling. You stay right there in the time and place, and you never become distracted by anything that is out of place or seems just, well, distracting. The one thing about dialog is that any veer off into a weird or clunky direction with it, and it jars the reader back into his/her own body. Great dialog makes the reader feel a part of the conversation. This writer's dialog was again pitch-perfect and very real. Can any of these talents be taught? I think some of it is a natural gift, and some of it is a honed skill. Some writers can never quite figure it out, or they do and they do a good job, but they can never pull off the natural genius of this writer. I will say that no matter what it is important to at least hone the skill and see where it goes ...

1 comment:

  1. All art historically rides an ever undulating process per- medium, culture and person highly predicated by influence, style, ability, knowledge, talent, demand, inspiration, dedication, perfection, whim and will. Some of those attributes can be learned and honed from education and training and some of it cannot.
    I find that maintaining an inner fire, inspiration from previous works and raw talent to be the three main factors that drives my success, at least in regard to the professional visual and applied arts. Having only recently started to exercise discipline personally in the literary arts; I find I am using the same formula hoping the trend of success continues to shine brightly on me in that regard. Thank you for sponsoring this thought process, good work!!!