Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just Enough to Trust

I saw a movie last night. Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School. I had never heard of it before (no shocker to me - check out this post for an explanation), but the cast was impressive. Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty), Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, John Goodman, Danny Devito, and a host of secondary characters that you will immediately recognize their faces. It was sweet and shmoopy and funny and poignant and sad. And it trusted the viewer to get it.

Don't doubt that it had it's flaws, but there was a way to it that drew me in. The movie touched on important points, just kissing lightly, then danced away to let the viewer mull them over. On some themes it came back and kissed a little deeper, but others it left alone. And that was what truly caught my eye last night.

I love the details in stories. Especially the characters. Back stories, reasonings, why they do what they do, what makes them tick. I fill mine up ad nauseum, if I'm not mistaken. And I think it comes down to trusting the reader. Which I'm not sure that I do enough.

This movie really brought that home to me. I enjoy thinking through a movie or book, trying to get into the characters' heads and motivations. I don't like to be spoon fed. The film last night hovered on the edge, right at the peripheral, and teased and coaxed until you knew all on your own. It kept me engaged by walking a fine line of giving me just enough.

And that illuminated again this idea to think about with my writing. (As if I needed another thing.) Something to strive for as I progress. It's difficult to hint and tell without telling. Hard to coax the reader instead of laying her out flat with a machine gun volley of details.

But it's worth it. So worth it.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

It's also so much harder in writing than it is in a visual medium where an actor can say three pages worth of material with one look or gesture, or where a director's shooting angle and lighting can set an entire mood. I lament that all the time. :)

Adding this movie to my Netflix cue!

Susan Kelley said...

You touched a point I think about all the time especially in my fantasy writing. When did I give the reader enough so they can figure it out on their own or did I confuse them by leaving out too much detail? Am I giving them too much as if they're too dumb to figure it out, or am I assuming their minds will follow along the paths I've cultivated?

Ava Quinn said...

So true, Natalie.

Hope you're not disappointed. I liked it, but the end sex scene didn't work for me, and the last 30 seconds or so were way too contrived.

Ava Quinn said...

I think about it a lot, too, Sue. And have a lot of the same fears. I just have to finish a dang ms so I can start editing for this because I think it's so important. Nothing like getting ahead of myself.

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