Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Turning Personal Lives Into Dramatic Fiction

Drama exists in each life. Even people who call their lives dull cannot dodge the drama in them. Whether we are aware of our everyday lives or not, if we ever feel exhausted, elated, or emotional at any time, there has to be some drama there.
In every life, some rain must fall. What is more, in every life, there is some sunshine. Our awareness of these two facts, especially when they collide, helps us to pinpoint our dramas, because what happens to us are events, but what turns events into dramas is our assessments of them and the way we react to them.
We need our dramas to feel we are living. When any writing springs from our life, we are showing we have lived and we have kept the account of our dramas. In the words of the writer Chuck Palahniuk, "Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas... Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown."
When we find ourselves in any traumatic, hectic, emotion-packed situation, we feel a certain type of energy, or sometimes, a draining of energy. So why not use that energy or that energy-drain in our writing instead of staying angry, beating up on ourselves, or to the contrary, resorting to denial?
In a drama school in NYU, each student is asked to write a one-act play of his own life. Through this process, students gain insight and appreciation into the drama in their lives.
When we write in the context of the personal, we get more involved with our plot, and therefore, we may enhance our writing by subconsciously tapping into sources we may not be aware we possess. This type of writing can start with free-flow writing, journaling, brainstorming ideas, lists, letter writing, and even advertisements and official petitions. Then, from its small beginnings, our writing will find the means to flow into brilliant fiction.
If a writer is intimidated by his own life and does not want to make a spectacle his privacy to other eyes, he can always write in third person, and he can rename the people and places in his life. Quite a few famous novelists write from their own experiences, from their own dramas, from their remembered roles, yet by renaming their characters. One such writer is Ernest Hemingway ( For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Movable Feast ), another is Pat Conroy ( The Great Santini, The Water is Wide).
A favorite novelist Isabel Allende, in her latest memoirs, refers to each life as a novel and says that each one of us is the protagonist of his own legend. In another section of the same book, she quotes her husband telling her that she has at least fifty different versions of the way they met. This shows a true dramatist's mind in action.
Writing from personal experience is putting down the heart and soul on paper without any fear of past hurts, hidden fantasies, dreams, or regrets. Once a writer can achieve this, he can also maneuver events, settings, characters, and plot twists to his liking, so what appears as fiction will feel real to his readers.
Joy Cagil is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/joycag

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