Do you like everything you see? Of course you don’t. So why should you expect everyone to like what you create.
If you write a play and we remove your mother from the equation I’m pretty sure:
- Some people will like it.
- Some people will love it.
- Some people will dislike it.
- And some people will hate it.
If you listen to the people who hate what you write and you change your play based on their feedback I guarantee you that you’ll create a new play that:
- Some people will like.
- Some people will love.
- Some people will dislike.
- And some people will hate.
Write what you love for yourself and your audience. You have a right to tell your story your way.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog with a few thoughts about how plot is character action and then I reposted that blog on my lifeisanact blog site and I had a question from someone. They asked, “Do you think not acting is also acting? being passive = a form of action?” Here’s my answer:
I guess it depends on how you understand being passive. I don’t think being passive is inactive. Gandhi freed a nation by using nonviolence.
Characters use all kinds of strategies in their quest for their goal. Being passive – if it achieves the character’s goal might be a useful strategy. It then becomes a story of will. A story about whether or not the will of the protagonist can be broken. If I strike you and you do not strike back, what happens if I raise the stakes, and threaten your family? Do you then choose to be passive? Or do you choose a different response?
The thing to remember is, the choice has to be a logical response for that character. We as an audience have to believe the choice the character makes and we have to understand why that character is making that choice.
On stage, a passive character would probably become boring fairly quickly. Theatre runs on conflict.
A passive character probably wouldn’t be the best choice for movies or television either since both of these mediums are visual.
However, a passive character might work in a novel where we can go inside the mind of the protagonist. One of the novel’s great strengths is its ability to dive deep into the psychology and thoughts of the main character in your story.
But once in that mind is the character really inactive? I don’t think so. The reasoning and thinking of the main character would be driven by a strategy to achieve a certain response. And part of that strategy might be to be passive. To not fight back.
I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. I do know that variety creates interest, so even if your character decides on a passive response, I doubt it could be maintained for any length of time. Other strategies would have to be employed.
I’m a big believer in writing for fun and exploration. Why not try writing a story about a passive character and see what happens. See how it feels. Is it even possible? Does it feel real? Does it feel human? Is this how human’s respond?
I might give it a shot myself. A ten minute play about a passive character. Feels like more of a comedy than a drama to me. Although, I suppose, you could call Chance in Being There a rather passive character in many ways. Events and characters act upon him. Just thought of that. Have you seen Being There? If you haven’t it is a must see film – Peter Sellers is brilliant. If you do watch it let me know what you think. Is that an example of a passive character that actually works?
He wants to work in a garden.
That’s all he wants.
Everything else that happens to him is a result of his simple quest for a garden.
If you think about it your typical story shows your protagonist in his normal life. Then a crisis occurs and our hero’s life is changed. Then the hero is forced to take action and by taking action she begins her quest for the new normal.
That’s exactly what happens in Being There.
Will Chance find his garden?
He might, and it might be the Rose Garden at the White House, but in this election year – I’m okay with that.