Saturday, August 25, 2007

Are We There Yet? December 06, 2006

Ikarias 3 is finished. Close to 92K. I need to go over it, tighten things up, edit and nitpick, and get beta readers to help me see what works, what doesn't.

God is in the details, and the Devil is in the details. That's how we get drawn in: not to the whole game but to that one shot that makes the game memorable, not to the mass and riot of color in the florist's shop but to those three exotic, alien, bird of paradise flowers with orange petals and the little violet tongues tasting the air.

Here's an exercise that's fun--and that's what this must be, fun, else why do it? Tape a movie you've never seen before, color, b&w, doesn't matter. It's best if you don't know it--pick a genre you don't usually watch. Alternately, rent a video you've never seen. Mute the TV or the comp with your DVD player, go fast forward and stop where there's 2-4 people. No sound, that's important.

Look at them: Where are they? What's the time period? Roughly? Who are they? Do they look rich or poor? What are they doing? How are they dressed? What's the surroundings like? Outside? Inside? What do their expressions tell us?

Example: An old woman sits in a rocker with a cat in her lap. She wears a long black dress as if she's in mourning. A cameo rests at the high neck, off center. She's tall, you can see that even as she sits. Her pale grey hair is wound about her head in an old fashioned way that looks European. Her cream stockings are thick and pulled tight, her feet are tucked into sensible black shoes. The rocker's arms are pale, the varnish worn from years of sitting. The old woman's eyes are open, they're opaque, echoing the wooden arms. She smiles but it's not a kind smile.

The tabby cat's hissing at someone to the left. He's not agitated enough to jump from the lap of his owner. Her hand rests on his hips and he could run if he wanted to.

Behind her, the wallpaper has a Victorian look of pale flowers, slightly yellowed but not peeling.

To the right, her hand on the old woman's shoulder is a woman, younger by at least forty years. They might be related, or at least friends. She looks stern, concerned. Her features are aristocratic: high cheekbones, plucked eyebrows, lipstick applied with art. She's dressed stylish but almost as severe as the old lady, in a dark suit with a single strand of pearls.

The above is details, but not heart.

Making up a story with both catches the reader. I'll taking the old lady's line, her thoughts:

Emma stroked old Mr Tabbs. He hissed at Steven, he never liked that boy even when he was a kit. Steven, known as Stevie then, tried to take the young tom on a ride in his Arrow wagon down Thompson Street. He got all scratched up and blamed Mr. Tabbs for him whanging the wagon into the old maple at the corner lot where the old Foster house used to be. Mr. Tabbs hated the boy ever since then. He didn't get hurt, except for his dignity, and for a cat, that's unforgivable.

Steven's looking for his share of Emmet's will. Looking to take Cassie's share too, though she's been more kin to me than my own blood. Adopted don't mean nothing when she's been here through Emmet's cancer and my failing eyes. Maybe my walking's not as spry, nor my joints as limber, but my mind is sharper than that boy'll ever know.

Where was he when Emmet called for him as the damned thing was eating him up like a wolf tearing at a lamb? Drinking, whoring, gambling, spending his life as a wastrel. Emmet took him out of jail so many times it was a joke. Dignity, my family's dignity lost to a bad seed. He's not getting the money, oh no.

Now the reader wants to know more.

No comments: