Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Out of ideas

I don’t know what to write about for my weekly blog posting today. There’s a lot going on in my head, but none of it seems to be cannon fodder for Type M.

I could tell you about the production of Verdi’s Rigoletto that I saw last night. The singing was lovely, along with the singers’ acting. The set design and director’s concept of the story left a lot to be desired, though. Oh, the one set was impressive and quite lovely in its own way, but it kept getting in the way. My wife and I both felt that if someone was not really familiar with Rigoletto’s storyline, they would have had no idea where most of the action was taking place or what was really going on.

I could relate all of this to writing crime fiction, and how the proper setting is so important to developing a convincing storyline, and how characters, no matter how well they’re drawn, can come off as lost and disjointed because the writer hasn’t given readers a clear and consistent context in which to understand them. Just because you describe the setting well doesn’t mean it really works.

And I could tell you how we were left scratching our heads as a long white ladder descended from the ceiling in the scene where Gilda is abducted. A ladder? What was that doing there? What did it mean? Do we have similar “white ladders” in our stories? Things that make sense to us, the writers, and something – since we can explain it directly to them – that we convince our editors to go along with, but leave our readers (who aren’t privy to the explanation) scratching their bewildered heads?

Or I might tell you about the real-life mystery that’s playing out on our street right now. Our across-the-street neighbour had the tires on his two cars slashed last week. Nothing special, you might say? Kids doing a spot of vandalism? How about if I told you about the note the perpetrator left under the wiper blade of one vehicle? How about the fact that this person took exception to our neighbour parking on the street too often and decided to slash his tires as a “first warning” that this will not be tolerated. Of course I’d have to say that now everyone is looking at everyone else and wondering if they’re the one.

This could be related to every crime writer as a golden opportunity for some in-depth research. How real, first-hand knowledge could make a story incredibly more gripping because the writer knew exactly what it felt like to go through something like that. We let opportunities like this slide by to our own peril – even if it might make us somewhat uncomfortable to pick over the carrion of neighbour’s problems.

Oh, I wish I knew what to talk about with you today, but I’m completely out of ideas.


hannah Dennison said...

For someone who didn't know what to write today ... you did a good job. Great post. Did you ever discover who (the director? prop person?) decided on the white ladder?

Rick Blechta said...

It was probably the director in concert with the production designer. To be truthful, I know why they used it (the struggle to get away from dishonour), but it was almost laughable as it descended out of the ceiling of the set. That response alone should inform the people putting the production together that their idea isn't really working.

Maybe directors should have editors?

Donis Casey said...

Sometimes the best blog posts come about when you can't think of anything to say.

Rick Blechta said...

I had my tongue in my cheek to be honest.