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Stage direction or Getting Your Characters to Move

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Trench Bunny Caretaker
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Can I just say this: I HATE stage direction! Arrrrghhh!!!

My characters can chatter away at each other all day, but just getting them to do simple things like get up and walk across the room can be so hard for me to write! And worse yet if I've got more than one character standing on opposite sides of the room and they have to interact with each other. I dunno why I have this issue, but some days (like today!) it drives me NUTS!

Anybody else have this issue? Suggestions how to get around it?

Thanks!

Rue
#1 - May 24, 2012, 07:14 AM
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In my rough drafts, I feel like I'm marching paper dolls on and off stage all the time. Sometimes I just leave it in until I'm done with the draft. Maybe add in some interiority (to use Mary Kole's word) to add time for characters to move around and mask some of the stage direction feeling?
#2 - May 24, 2012, 07:18 AM

AdamV

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Maybe you could try writing the scene without dialog, like someone has muted the TV. It would be a fun exercise to see if you could still get the point of the scene across, and hopefully you could use some of those details in the "un-muted" version.
#3 - May 24, 2012, 07:22 AM

Trench Bunny Caretaker
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"Marching paper dolls on and off stage."

Yup, that's exactly how this feels sometimes!

I thought about dumping in a couple placeholders where I needed my characters to move ("Lucas enters room"), but I find when I do that I find it bumps me out of the scene.

Anyway, I realized today my characters weren't cooperating because they wanted to do things THEIR way. So I gave in and the scene started to flow better!

Rue
#4 - May 24, 2012, 07:46 AM
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Adam V, that's an interesting suggestion. Rue, on my last revision of my novel, adding in "stage direction" was a big part of what my editor suggested. I had too much dialogue where they were just talking heads!

To contrast with Olmue's suggestion, my tendency now is to have too much interiority sometimes now though. That was beaten in my head when I was told on a prior book that I didn't have enough, but what is interiority to one reader is "telling" to another. So part of my adding action was replacing some interiority with a physical gesture or sign that expressed some of the character's emotions (hello, Emotion Thesaurus!)
#5 - May 24, 2012, 07:46 AM
Kell Andrews
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Trench Bunny Caretaker
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Thanks, Kell. It's a balance isn't it? I tend to lean towards "talking heads" on the first draft with a few actions/gestures that supposedly reveal the character's emotions. I do need to work on adding more interiority. (Is that word hard to say or what?)

Anyway, characters are moving again--for now. ;)

Thanks!

Rue
#6 - May 24, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Maybe you could try writing the scene without dialog, like someone has muted the TV.

This is a really strong suggestion, not just as an exercise but as an approach to writing every scene -- IMO, the action in a scene should always have precedence over the dialogue, and tell more of the story and emotion, if it possibly can. /former screenwriter
#7 - May 24, 2012, 09:05 AM
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I also love Adam's suggestion of blocking out the scene, with actions only. You can write in even those actions that will not appear in your final work.

I haven't tried that, but I have a pad and do a lot of sketches (not fancy ones, like stick figures) while I'm writing. It keeps me making sure I remember where my characters are throughout the scene. At each paragraph, I look at my sketch of the room or environment where the characters are and it helps me.
#8 - May 24, 2012, 12:12 PM

I use too much stage direction! People talk they move they do all kinds of things. Such a thin line for me!

Danette
#9 - May 24, 2012, 12:17 PM
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