“I challenge you to write using only action.” This is the challenge I set for myself and for you today. That means you cannot say how a character feels or thinks, or what they say, but only what can be seen. Here is my attemp. It is difficult to do! Feel free to pull it to pieces!
She pulls at the leather strap of her high heel, fastening the buckle. She unfolds her body and stands unsteadily for a moment. Smoothing her skirt her jaw tenses and her hands grab at the loose material around her thighs. She puffs out her chest and moves toward the full length mirror.
There she stands, eyes downcast. Her eyelids flicker open as she scans the reflection. The crease in her brow softens, her left cheek twitches in a half smile. Her clenched hands now relax, hanging loosely at her sides.
She takes a step closer to the mirror. She runs her fingers lightly over her face, over and under her eyes, slightly smudging the lines of dark makeup. Her eyes crinkle, her teeth peek out from her lips.
Closing her eyes she ruffles the front of her hair, letting the strands fall between her fingers.
Turning abruptly from the mirror, she straightens her shoulders and struts from the room.
I like my skin. I like who I am. But given the chance to be another version of myself, in another time or place…
A younger version of myself stands at the open fridge, looking past the olives that nobody remembers buying (in fact the rumour is that they were there before any of us moved in), looking for the block of chocolate I’m sure I hid from view. Living in a share house has its advantages. Privacy and ownership of foods are not them. Freedom to come and go. Freedom to think and nurture those thoughts. They are high on the list.
I shrug and close the fridge, settling for a glass of tap water and some dry biscuits care of someone else. I secretly hope it was the person that took my chocolate. It is ten am and time to head off to uni. I have two lectures today and a tutorial. I’m looking forward to them. The festival is on and the streets are alive. I am alive. Last night I saw two shows and talked crap for hours with a few of the cast members that came to couch surf at our place. I precariously walk over them as I head out the door.
My screenwriting course is first up and I can’t wait to start. I had some brilliant ideas last night during my conversations. Of course as I look at my scrawled writing, it occurs to me that the ideas might have been drunken dreams.
I sit enthralled in the lecture about character. Fleshing our backstories and listening to their voices beyond the text. I am so inspired I spend the hour between lectures at the cafe writing manically so my ideas don’t leak out and are forgotten before I can solidify them.
My performance lecture, followed by a practical tutorial is physically and emotionally draining. There are moments that I am locked in the scene and I forget that I exist. Those are the moments I love the most. The moments I am truly someone else.
I join some friends for a drink. The pub has a beer garden and there are some music students playing some tunes. I flip off my shoes and feel the soft grass on my feet and the sun on my face as I drink the one beer I can afford. I relax into casual conversation and laugh lots. This is where I want to be. This is who I am.
Far away in another land a nearly forty year old woman writes after a family day with her husband and three children. This is where I want to be. This is who I am. But maybe for a day, a week, a month…..