Drama: Response

This afternoon, I've been having a bit of a cry.

Hooray! I feel like celebrating.

See, ever since Tony Jordan spoke at last year's SWF about how writing drama often reduces him to a mess of tears, snot and booze, I've been conscious that nothing I've written has provoked that kind of emotional response in me. It's not like I've since deliberately set about writing something that will have me blubbing like a newborn, but an emotionally-charged story just happens to have grown in my mind over the last few months.

I've spent the first three days of 2009 pouring it all into the 25-page first draft of a TV spec script. This afternoon was the big climax, and I did indeed find myself with something in my eye. Okay, several things. In both eyes. Especially when I realised that what I was writing was also something of a personal exorcism. Of course, repeatedly listening to Soul Asylym's Runaway Train and Everclear's Learning How To Smile didn't help. But it all felt tremendous, like a year's worth of therapy. Mental Spring cleaning.

I don't reckon that everything we write should turn us into emotional wrecks, or even be vaguely cathartic. But as Chemical Brothers pointed out with music, drama should trigger some kind of response. Perhaps if you know what you want your audience to feel, this makes the writing run all the more smoothly, with all the more focus and, ultimately, impact.

So come on - cards on the table. Who's had a bit of sob at their own work? And I don't mean when you re-read it, two weeks later, and realised it was nonsense.


0tralala said...

Not me, I am too helluva tough. But a lot of my scribbling aims to get a rise from my wife. Page 212 of The Pirate Loop made her cry. Still one of my proudest moments.

Jon Peacey said...

I'm not sure which I envy more... that you still have functioning emotions or that you can do 25 pages in three days...!

I can't recall having had 'a bit of a sob' but I do sometimes get vague flickerings from the embers. Not sure whether that counts.

Adaddinsane said...

And today's blogger verification word is "noisical" - a punk musical. Oh no, it's "noisial": sound to be applied nasally.

Emotion? Welling up? Can't remember. I have laughed at my own humour, but that doesn't count, does it?

Oh yes. Not with scriptwriting yet, but when I was writing my epic novel, I cried twice.

Notably when a supporting character left her Mum to go off with the protagonist; both knowing that she (the Mum) would be killed in the next 24 hours. That was tough. Destiny can be a right bugger.

I've got a bit weepy over some of my poems too.

Happy New Year to the Weeping Arnopp.

Piers said...


Near by said...

I bawl sometimes


Happy New Year

Lara said...

I have only written 2 screenplays with really emotional, blub-worthy contents and I used to sob over my keyboard when I read the pages back. Really used to choke me up. x

Gerry said...

The thing I did for Red Planet was based on the terrible, awful things that I play out in my head when other stuff fails to sufficiently distract me.
I may have had a moment during that. In a manly way, of course.

David Lemon said...

Yes. It's often what I'm going for on most of the things I write -well, maybe not my 'kid turns into dinosaur' cartoon spec- and that farty dragoon cartoon I did for cbbc, but I agree that if the script is asking an audience to feel emotions that strongly then bringing a tear to your own eye is never a bad idea-especially as I get misty eyed to a less than manly degree (The first five minutes of 'Finding Nemo' EVERY time- damn those fish!)

Christine said...

I basically only write comedy. Can I be excused from the crying requirement?

Well, unless laughing til you cry counts. Piers and I wrote a sketch together whose entire content was the Queen saying, "cunt." We both shed tears of mirth over that one. (Unfortunately, when it was performed the audience didn't share our enthusiasm.)

michellelipton said...

Ooh yes, proper snivelling girly snotty sobs as well.

It was awesome!

It's only happened once though, well twice - but they were two scenes from the same script. I cried when I was writing them and I still cry over one of them when I read it back, even now.

It also made my most cynical friend cry so I count it as a major achievement.

Will you be PO3ing this? Can I formally state my interest if you do...?

Elinor said...

I never cry at what I write though now I'm thinking I should.

Piers said...

Depends whether or not it's supposed to be sad, surely...