Succinct Part 2: Physicality

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If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I love peeking behind the scenes (Peek-A-Boo Part 1Peek-A-Boo Part 2).

So, after I watched the Castle pilot, I watched the Castle pilot with commentary. Many of the “oh, I like how they did that” scenes were touched upon by the comments, but one I had found sweet but hadn’t thought about was one between Castle and his daughter.

The point of the scene, we’re told, was to show the relationship between father and daughter.

The teenager daughter is heading to the bedroom and her father is walking with her. As they enter the scene, she’s hanging playfully on his arm (as they discuss murder, but we’re not worried about nightmares right now). He spins her around and pushes her (in her socked feet) down the hall. They’re close. He dotes. She adores. It’s obvious.

The commentary tells us that the director told the actors to come up with some physicality. Their directions were: show the relationship and all the shot except the opening will be tight on your faces, so they must be close together.

They hit it dead on. The scene was perfect. And the fact that they’re talking about murder and mayhem only enhances how perfect that bit of physicality (their word, not mine) is.

And it made me think of actions in my own work. Obviously, in TV or film, it’s easier to show action. In writing we can take up pages describing (sometimes clumsily) what and how someone is doing something. Often times it doesn’t matter that he picks up the pen now, or holds his fork like it’s a trash picker. But sometimes it does…and when it does, it can speak volumes.

Recently, my writing group read a scene where I had unwittingly done this. Suzanne is demanding to see something at the same time she’s physically backing away. She’s conflicted. And my writing group picked up on this right away. I wasn’t sure if I’d been able to show her feelings, but I didn’t want to spend too much time on her reaction. But it worked! In two sentences I was able to described what pre-editing had taken paragraphs…slow and plodding paragraphs.

Hooray for physicality!

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3 thoughts on “Succinct Part 2: Physicality

  1. bethfinke

    Demanding to see something while physically backing away? Sounds to me like you hit “conflicted” right on the head. Isn’t it fun when this kind of writing comes out of our pen without us really knowing it? Keep up the good work!

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