Art Imitates Live
By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending my first ever Broadway show, Fish in the Dark, a play starring – and written by – Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. While I’ve enjoyed watching both of those television shows, there’s nothing like watching a live performance – especially when Larry David and Rosie Perez are on the stage, acting right in front of you.
During our winter residency this past January, Bluegrass Writers Studio participants had the distinct honor of attending a craft talk given by Daniel Abraham, one of the James S.A. Corey collaborators. Abraham advised us to consider our reader when writing. Not necessarily the type of reader who may actually purchase and read our to-be-published novels – though that’s good advice, too – but rather, consider a point of view in which reading a novel is like reading about a performance for which you weren’t present.
If I had to read about Fish in the Dark, rather than watching the live performance; if, say the script was transcribed into prose form that I might find in a novel, what would the writer, Larry David, in this case, need to do to make the characters jump off the page for me? To make it seem as though the actors were right in front of me? How would he capture those moments of irony without becoming cliché? And what about pacing and delivery, a tool that not only every comedian needs, but every writer needs, too, so as to keep moments of suspense suspended and to elevate the ordinary to extraordinary?
While Abraham cannot advise me as to which combination of craft tools will best suit my novel-in-progress, his lecture certainly made me consider my reader from a different perspective. While a paragraph of lyrical prose is aesthetically appealing, my readers will quickly tire of my story unless my writing makes the reader feel as though they are not just reading about a performance, but actually on the stage with my characters.
Published on September 24, 2015