Week six study diary – Advanced Creative Writing
This week’s subject was revealing information in drama.
We looked at subtext and exposition. Subtext is the “hidden meaning that lies beneath the spoken words” (Neale, 2009). Exposition is “the delivery of information to the audience” (also Neale, 2009). Blatant exposition can be the function of the chorus in Greek style plays, but disturbs the illusion in plays designed to be realistic. Successful naturalistic dialogue gives little obvious information.
I considered how I might use both of these methods for the stage play I am writing for the next assignment, currently called “To have and to Hold”.
We played about with monologues. Lily’s monologue will not be used as is in the final version of the play, but parts of it might. We looked at the status of characters and how that can change during a scene – Keith Johnstone’s “see-saw” principle, when one character's status is raised the other's is lowered.
As with the first assignment, my real challenge seems to be creating a fulfilling and stand-alone story with a three act structure that only lasts fifteen minutes. Including a catalyst, quest and resolution in fifteen pages of script, while maintaining a balance that favours showing over telling, is even less easy than it sounds, believe me. If I learn nothing else from this course it will be the importance of brevity.
Activity 5.3 monologue
It would be easier if other people didn’t like him. I can see through the veneer of his charm so why can’t Tom or Mum? Tom must know I’m not lying. Stefan was in prison for Christ’s sake. That’s not something I just made up. Now Tom’s patting my hand, worried I’ll explode across the dinner table and rip Stefan’s throat out. It’s patronising. No, it’s gaslighting. This awful man in our midst and we’re all supposed to do what? Laugh at his jokes, forgive him, be charmed by those cute phrases he uses to reconnect with his horse-thief ancestors. I just want to protect Mum, open her eyes, make her see him as he really is. Fuck! Is he drugging her, hypnotising her? Sex can’t be that good. And Tom, Tom knows what I’ve been through and he’s sat there laughing away at that fucking Magpie-Monster.
I read sections of “Ghosts”, by Ibsen, and “The Homecoming”, by Pinter. And decided to try and recruit my daughters friends to do a reading for me of the various parts in “To Have and to Hold” before I submit it. They haven’t agreed yet.