So about 12 weeks ago (along with all the other HUGE changes in my life: joining Weight Watchers, getting a trainer again, going Vegetarian) I decided to start taking an Improv class. It is a great class, and a wonderful outlet for all those strange and unruly emotions hiding beneath the surface of us “regular” human beings.
But as I began working with Improv, I began seeing it as more than just a chance to perform (I am a performer by nature and by genetics, having had a long line of carnies/magician/actors/storytellers in my family line)…I began to see this is a chance to expand my writing as well.
Improv is all about NOT thinking. It is about getting into the moment and finding the funny in the experience…and I think writing should be too.
We, as authors, think too much about subtext and character motivation. Perhaps that old woman ate that fly because she was hungry, not because of an eating disorder. Perhaps that young man put the cat down the well because he’s an ass, instead of taking a stand against the moralistic society he has been thrust into. Perhaps, people do things just because…
My wife has a HORRIBLE habit of asking me what I think. It is her default. When in a discussion, if she is not getting the answer she wants she will say, “Any thoughts?” Sometimes I just don’t have any, sometimes I just don’t care. Or sometimes it is so convoluted I don’t want to try to tease it apart.
And guess what, our characters are just like us. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to them, and it isn’t worth figuring out…or sometimes there is so much to it, that to bring it out would just cause more confusion and tension than it is worth.
So cut them a break, cut us all a break…leave some mystery, un-plumb (what is a plumb anyway????) those depths, get shallow. If it is worth knowing, you’ll figure out a way to show us.
So, the challenge this week…
A) Don’t think, just write.
B) Find out what a “plumb” is. (Edit: Found it!)