A reader’s comment got me thinking about yesterday’s post. Micro-managing your reader is a bit like the controlling, insane Director of a play I once acted in. But as the reader implies, directing in itself (whether for theater, media or prose) is also essential. Since I was a thespian in my younger years, I thought it might be fun to explore what a non-insane director is like.
Writing Tip for Today: What do good directors do?
- Allow for Creative Departures. I was once in a community children’s theater production of Pinocchio. The show was a hit. It sold out and the run was extended for several months. During that magical run, our director allowed us actors the freedom to improvise on stage within the context of the scene. Likewise, a good writer leaves open opportunities for discovery while they write. Sometimes, these discoveries come up with better plot twists, character interpretations or other developments than conscious outlining.
- Rein in Chaos. A good director doesn’t allow these “creative discoveries” to run amok. As a writer, you have to know how to spot digressions (also known as rabbit holes) or redundancies that don’t contribute to the overall story.
- No Divas in the Chorus. At one time, I was also involved with light opera . Our director made sure that none of us “nameless chorus members” drowned out the leads or upstaged the main characters. In your story, if your secondary characters are more colorful or interesting than the leads, it’s your job as director to tone them down or even–gasp!–kill them off.
- Let’s Go Through it One More Time. Good directors aren’t afraid to ask more of their performers. If your novel, memoir or other project still needs work, you’ve got to be willing to stay late and revise until your work is professional enough to go on the publishing stage.
- Stay in the Background. Good directors also know to remain in the background. If you are writing things for your own convenience (such as info loading the dialogue or explaining stuff that should be shown) you’re getting in the way of the show. And you know, the play’s the thing.