Stranger Than Fiction-ish

In Essays, Playwriting on May 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

I love this movie.  I’ve seen it several times, always remembering the incredible joy I felt at identifying with Emma Thompson’s character, and the deep quandary she finds herself in once Harold Crick becomes a real person.  Because what are we but the Watchmaker, the unsee-able Oz, to our scripts?  

Now, I don’t mean that in some weird, idolotrous manner, only that… as we create situations for our characters, we are steering their course in a way only we can.  They may speak to us from the pages, but it is our pen that puts them in hot water in order to see them climb out.  It is our imagination that invents serial killers for them to defeat, mountains for them to scale, debt collectors for them to escape…  We are the magic behind the curtain, and I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that sometimes… just sometimes… the similarity between being a character in a script and being a human being in the world is striking.

I mean, here we are, with naught to go on but our faith, pressing ever onward towards our goals and heart’s desires… and all of these obstacles get in the way!  And sometimes they are minor, their lessons easily absorbed, but sometimes, oh sometimes they are something fierce to wrestle with and, much like a child, we shout up at the heavens in anger at this horrible trick being played upon us.  

We don’t know the “Why” behind it… we may not ever figure it out.  But odds are it’s changed our course… set us towards a new path, a different direction, something more interesting than if we were to flounder ever onward in the “Easy”…

And it may all sound silly, but it’s something I can’t help but wonder at when I’m setting my character up for despair – are they going to pull through it?  Are they going to come out stronger in the end?  Or am I writing a tragedy of epic proportions?  And if they could – at “Curtain” – look up at me and speak, would they be fulfilled b y their own story, or would they tell me I could have done better?


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