Throwing & writing

Today was an absolutely ridiculous day. For most of this week I’ve been doing live hands for different characters. Today seemed to be all about throwing things. How many people does it take for a puppet to throw things? Usually about three. There’s the lead puppeteer, then the live hands and then an assistant to hand us the things we are throwing.

The tricky thing is coordinating all of these people so it looks like the puppet is a single character. While I’m pulling my arm back for the windup, the lead puppeteer has to twist the body to make it look like the movement is generated there. Meanwhile, below the frame, a person is crouching with the next item to throw. Because I’m looking at a monitor, I can’t see the object I need to grab–if it’s not in the frame, it doesn’t exist for me–so the assistant has to put it in my hand. Tóti is really good at this. Often, we’ll finish a take and I discover that I’ve got a cake or an apple in my hand, with no memory of grabbing it.

Strangely, this coordinated effort has given me an insight into some writing stuff. It’s not an analogy, but there are some related things. When I’m writing, to make a character seem real, I have several different things I have to coordinate in the background, like advancing the plot, revealing motivation and the illusive characterization. If any of those things become unbalanced, if they take too much precedence then I’m calling attention to the process. (Now I get to do an analogy.) It’s like when the puppet’s arm moves before the body turns. The arm movement might be fluid and perfect, but it announces that it is not part of the character by moving on it’s own.

I can’t give a character a line of dialogue to advance the plot if it’s not generated from within. Seems self-evident, huh. It is, but it’s good to be reminded.

And now, my mother will complain that I don’t talk enough about my life. After all of this throwing, Rob and I went to Á Næstu Grösum for dinner. It’s very relaxing, low key and yummy.

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