December 2, 2010

story-telling / writing / acting

Today I was telling a story to my family in the car. I found myself thinking ahead of the words I would say, the same way that I do when I write. Story-telling is interesting, because you have to think how to describe things and deal with dialogue (the different voices of the people you're telling the story about) and I am going to insist on spelling dialogue like that.

Now I'm revising my novel, and I find it enriching and also difficult that I have to understand my characters in order to make their words sound like themselves. Mother Graham is telling a story right now, if that's of any use to you to know. I'm not completely sure how she speaks yet. I ran across this same phenomenon during NaNoWriMo, too, especially in the beginning: the feeling of acting, like interpreting a piece of literature, the bopping back and forth from character to character, channeling their motivations and backgrounds.

I think it would be very cool if I now drew a connection between acting and story-telling, just to make this thought come full circle. Um, acting is a way of communicating a story, though not a real-life one. There we go, that was quick.

I've told quite a few people they can read my novel and I so hope I communicate what I mean to with it! This is not to ask for affirmation but simply to express what I'm thinking. There are just a lot of things I don't know how to do in writing, I've found myself thinking to the characters of Till We Have Faces and the writing style of A Separate Peace and the imagery of George MacDonald's fantasies because I want to know how they did it so well.

Today in Psychology class we talked about how people learn things, and according to Behaviorism (which isn't completely right, but this is the jumping off point for the thought) learning is a fairly permanent change in behavior. Apparently, when someone receives reinforcement for certain behavior, that behavior will be increased, even when the reinforcement is only occasional. Dragging out the interval between reinforcements steadily increases someone's (okay, the example was a pigeon pecking a button) tendency to continue the behavior. Eventually the pigeon will reach a point of "functional autonomy" where they subconsciously think, hey, I like this! I peck the little button not because I get rewarded every 5,000 times (no joke) but because I actually enjoy doing it for it's own sake. Long story short: we work best when we like what we do.

I like doing what I do, mostly. And I try to always do what is the right thing to do at that time, which means trust and patience and stopping things to write poems.

It's kind of relieving to write freely like this.


Michael said...

I don't really have anything worthwhile to add, but I just wanted to say: Who wouldn't spell dialogue like that, yo!?

". . . which means trust and patience and stopping things to write poems."


Echoes in Ink said...

I like this a lot. I agree. :D

{Have I asked to read your novel yet?}

Art said...


Catey: no, but I was already planning to send it to you.