Monday, December 27, 2010

Do Your Characters Have Something to Say to Each Other?

I'm writing a stage play for two characters, each with equal and opposite goals. Neither can stand the other. So I put them in a room together. And I'm trying to determine what keeps them each in that room. I have two possible answers; either will work. But my real question is:

Do they have something to say to each other?

My follow-up question:

Is it enough to sustain the storyline and keep the audience intrigued for ten or so minutes?

And finally:

Is it compelling and dramatic?

I'm writing specifically for a production next spring. It's a subject I've flown to Maryland to investigate. After an intriguing interview with a fellow who has worked in Baffin Bay along the Arctic Circle (as well as numerous other cool places around the globe) this is the story that most sticks with me. It's probably not the story he'd first tell you if you asked him about his adventures in Nunavut. But I find it intriguing. And disturbing. And even quite dramatic. Well, it's dramatic when I twist the basic story into a fictionalized "based loosely on real life" tale.

Still, if I choose this as my story for a short play that will be stage read at the Audi in Concord, NH, and later produced in Boston (part of my Granite Playwrights, Ink writing group's workshop-to-production series this spring and summer) then I have to care about my characters enough to spend several months with them. And enough to make you, the audience, care about them.

So while I strive to answer my own questions, I invite you to explore your characters. It's not enough to find their individual voices, you've got to compel us to want to stay and listen to them. Good luck!

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