Yesterday evening a friend texted me and said I should check out the sun. After I finished the laundry, loaded the dishwasher, and checked my email, I dashed outside. A faint rosy glow was all that remained in the western sky. I’d been so busy keeping up with the plot of my life I missed an important reflective moment.
Sometimes we drag our characters through a story at breakneck speed and never allow them or the reader an opportunity to reflect upon deeper meanings.
Dallas Morning News theater critic, Lawson Taitte, made this interesting observation of the Broadway musical, Memphis:
Memphis sizzles with light and heat … so why is it that I feel as if I have eaten something iced with synthetic shortening when the show is over? … Director Christopher Ashley tells the fairly complex story clearly, and choreographer Sergio Trujillo keeps the dancers jumpin’ and jivin’. Maybe the incessant motion, in fact, is one reason for the bad taste in my mouth. The show never really slows down enough to let a song land.
Writing a gripping story is like writing a moving musical score. Moments of frenetic movement are made more powerful by the tiny little rest. What does the rest look like in storytelling?
I had the pleasure of spending the day at the lake with this little fellow. He went non-stop, exploring every rock, tree, and bug. Late in the afternoon he asked for a snack. He raced to the bank, plopped down in his little lawn chair, and sat there for thirty minutes…resting. Don’t you wonder what he was thinking? Did he feel as small as he looks? Did he dream of swimming to the other side of the lake or contemplate conquering the world? Even three-year-olds with boundless energy have to rest now and then. I think it is in the resting, contemplating, and observing that we learn the most.
Every once in awhile, let your characters slow down and land a song. Let them learn in the quiet then send them hurtling into the fray once again. And NEVER let them miss a chance to soak in a solar eclipse.