Monday, 11 October 2010

What does drama have to do with writing?

Actors turned writers have this advantage - a sense of the dramatic.  I spent years treading the boards when writing was still a hobby.  By the time I made the switch, I had also swapped acting for teaching drama and directing, which made me realise just how much correlation there is between the two arts.

No surprise, really, when you think about it.  Whether performed or written, we are portraying or commenting on the human condition.  Which means conflict, motivation, characterisation, atmosphere, mood line, emotional life and goals.  Not forgetting that most performance art requires a writer's input.

Coming from theatre to writing gave me a head start.  I automatically thought in terms of what if, who and why.  Your "who" had to have their own voice, manner and behaviour as well as objectives.  A character's emotional life was meat and drink to me.  Atmospheric effects - whether external or internal - generated the mood line of the story.  Most important of all, without conflict there is no drama.

An actor learns all this as a matter of course, through training and practice.  But it was only as a teacher and director that I started thinking about it.  It took analysis to realise how much my dramatic experience had informed my writing.

I plan to do some blogs on these areas where drama and writing overlap and see if I can nail how they work for me by way of the crossover.  Next time, conflict.

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