So, long time no blog about my project. I feel as though I’ve been all thought and little action. This is less true than I’d imagined. I’ve given a presentation about the proposal (assessed, happy enough with the mark) which concentrated the mind on what I’m actually going to do and how I’m going to tackle it, the difficulties that might arise and how I’m going to overcome them. There was a flurry of excitement about the International Radio Drama competition and whether I should write for that. But no. Stick to Plan A, an afternoon drama. I have been thinking, writing it in my head and trying this and that.
I’ve started two versions to see which feels better. One tells the story from the perspective of outside characters and the other from the central characters’. The advantage of the first is that it might make it easier to handle the emotional content; but the second, for that very reason, might have more impact and be more engaging. Fine balance.
I’ve written character biographies and plan to invent one scenario for which each character will write a monologue style response. Finding the voice that distinguishes each one character from another seems key to radio. The listener needs to be in no doubt about who is speaking.
‘But what’s in the air? ‘you might be wondering. The answer may become apparent later this week.
Yours enigmatically, for a Monday.
The coffee is filtered, the dark ginger cake is being cut, we’re ready to write.
The truth is more that we write a bit, chat a bit and discuss projects or aspects of writing. Such are Thursday 11am-2pm Creative Brews’ sessions at Nottingham Writers’ Studio.
This week we talked about the challenges of finding THE perfect name for a character. Does the character suggest a name? Does a name modify the writer’s perception of a character? What is conveyed when the form of address is not an actual name?
The radio drama I’m writing needs to identify a person by how the protagonist perceives her and not by her name or relationship. So ‘Mother’, ‘Mum’ ‘Sylvia’ just won’t do. I asked the group to say the images that came to mind for a female character called ‘The Magpie’ by one of her daughters but not by the other.
‘Well the bird. And that character with long hair on the telly.’
‘The TV programme.’
(image from RSPB)
‘The rhyme – one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl etc.’
‘Yes, it’s the one for sorrow, three for a girl and seven for a secret never to be told that underlies my choice of The Magpie, or just Magpie.’
‘Thieving magpie, magpies liking shiny things to build nests.’
‘Is it the male or the female that builds the nest?’
‘There’s something purely instinctive though in them doing that, it’s not a moral stance. Isn’t it about courtship?’
‘That lack of morality fits the character well. As a conscienceless psychopath she’d probably want to make out that she couldn’t help it, that what she did was some mysterious force’s responsibility, or indicated something wrong with her brain that negated her ability to take responsibility and left her blameless (in her eyes).’
‘They steal eggs, all kinds of things.’
‘They’re a bit sinister, not as much as crows or ravens.’
‘Those birds are rather clichéd, more of the horror genre or witches and wizard tales.’
‘They pick at wounds on animals, they’ll even prey on small creature, baby rabbits, they eat dead flesh.’
‘They’re not popular birds, we don’t get sentimental about them.’
‘As a name for someone, it doesn’t suggest the daughter is wanting to be vindictive, there are many alternatives that would give the daughter a viciousness.’
‘Yes. That’s what I want to avoid, the daughter is not going to stoop to the level of the mother who refers to her elder daughter as the Devil’s Whore and other similarly vile epithets.’
‘It conjures a visual image, which has to be good for radio.’