Monday, January 4, 2010

Writing Speeches

Today I've been working on a scene in a novel... one thing that's difficult when you're not working on a longer piece of writing full-time is that it becomes hard to keep track of rather simple things, like who is present in the next scene and what time of day or night it should be. Also for this one I'm having to write speeches now and then, and they need to be good speeches because the character in the story is very charismatic, but in the end the one who needs to actually make them up is me, and he'll have to work with my material, as do they all in this novel. (It's a strange world, hence, where animals talk with a slight German accent and everyone is a bit preoccupied with tasty snacks even in the face of great danger.)
I think I've read an awful lot of badly written speeches in stories (and seen them in movies) where the audience is supposed to believe it's a rousing performance simply because there's a fictional cheering crowd. I'm trying to avoid that, but it's probably best not to try to hard, just write it and fix it later if needs be.

Anyway, I'm getting close to the end of part one (a year after starting the project) - I only made the book two parts because I figured it would take me ages to write and it would be good to have a midway point to celebrate, really.
Right now the crowd is shouting "Speak! Speak!" and there better be a grand speech NOW, but luckily I operate in a different space-time continuum and can stop for lunch first.


Sarah said...

Good luck with it! One of the most interesting speeches I've read recently is in 'Small Island', when Gilbert, a Jamaican immigrant lodger, tells it straight to Bernard, his landlady's racist husband. It's a pretty good speech, but what's most poignant about it IS its reception; Gilbert's wife sees him for the great man he is, and Bernard listens to the whole thing, but replies with 'I didn't understand a word you said', and you realise, not only did he not understand the concepts in the speech, but his incomprehension of Gilbert's accent has made it impossible anyway.

They didn't include Bernard's rejoinder in the film version, just had him stay silent, and I wondered why. Maybe it was just too depressing near the end of the film - it really packed a painful punch.

Viviane Schwarz said...

They didn't, did they! I remember that scene in the film. - It did seem like Bernard really didn't get it, but it didn't cross my mind that he didn't even understand the words... That is interesting.
Anyway, I've stopped and spent some time thinking about how the audience feels to start with, and what would really surprise them, and what they are hoping and fearing to hear... that should help... hm!