Friday, July 21, 2017

The Writer's Filter - Piecing Together Real Life

 This week's question - the use of real life events/people/places in fiction echoes a very similar question in acting. Do you mine your life to feed your body of work? 

Uhm. Yeah. Of course. Because what other frame of reference do I have? You think I'm using someone else's life? Oh. Wait. I've done that. But even then, the only way to put that on a page (or into performance) is to internalize the experience set even if I did not have it and present it through the lens of what if I had? 

Right? I mean, the only system any of us has for feeling and conveying that feeling is via our own body/mind/emotions - which represents the sum total of everything we've ever experienced. Granted, I get that we're talking about whether or not I'm writing about Aunt Edna's false teeth falling into her glass of milk during my sixth birthday party.

Sometimes I do. I subscribe to the notion that anytime I experience high emotion (whether pleasant or unpleasant) it has some use in a current WIP. There was one case where a major bad guy was modeled on someone and an awful situation I'd known. It involved restraining orders and threats of violence. Rough several months. Perfect bad guy fodder, but you bet I made darned sure neither the person nor the situation were recognizable by anyone but me. (Also, I don't have an Aunt Edna, so forget about the teeth and the milk.) So yes. Everything I write, every character I create, every play I perform, it all comes through me, and so is indelibly colored by my experiences. Some times situations or people directly influence character or plot development, but not often and never undisguised. The rest of the time, it's subtler than that - more a case of tone and filter. My life and my mental state (such as it is) set my tone and create the filter through which all story passes. Add into that that every place I've been speaks story to me. The shot of the corner shop at top is the local tea shop. I turned it into a main character's tattoo shop in Nightmare Ink. The pyramid played into that same character's story in Bound By Ink. The dragon toothed cave hasn't shown up yet, but it will.  And the stairs - same thing. There's a story there. Who or what comes down those steps? Why? 

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