We can’t help but write about ourselves. It can be incredibly cathartic to do this- being a writer has helped me though many tough periods of my life. But it can be distressing trying to write something painful directly from your own viewpoint. I’ve sometimes felt frozen, or caught up in the bad feelings that I couldn’t write a thing!
I once wrote a character and situation during a particularly troubled time in my life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the character was saying everything I couldn’t say with my own voice. What happened is that I’d started speaking through my character, lulled into a false sense of security by my focus on her fictional life. I’ve deliberately employed this technique ever since.
The bottom line is that you will always put yourself into your writing and that is a good thing. You can use it to enrich your characters. No-one else has your personality, your life experience or your way of seeing the world. Mix this with a character with completely different life experiences to your own and you’ll create something magical.
So I watched Into the Storm this week. I’m morbidly interested in tornados- I have a life plan that includes if I’m ever terminally ill, I’d like to go become a storm chaser. What a way to die.
I was so excited to see this at the cinema as I’ve missed watching other great disaster movies on the big screen. But from the first moment Richard Armitage and his family started talking, I was cringing in my little foldable seat. Poor Richard Armitage, who I know from his other films as a broodingly nuanced performer!
I learnt very early in my writing career that if you give actors bad dialogue, nothing can save it. I was in my first year of a film degree and I’d submitted my script to be read by real actors, and each bad line had me dying a little inside.
The moral of this story is to read your dialogue out loud. Hell, read your entire novel/script/play out loud.
And if you still don’t believe me, watch this film.
I can’t even answer you because I find your dialogue so unbelievable that you’ve broken the fourth wall!