How many times have we sat down to watch a movie, show, play, performance, or other entertainment and given the actors credit for everything? I know I’ve done it unconsciously many times. Last Christmas we had tickets to Cirque de Solei. The performance was astounding! All of the amazing acrobats doing incredible feats of gravity defying moves. The contortionists twisting and turning in ways that make you go, “I don’t think the human body is meant to do that”. Through it all they tell a story. The music starts off bringing you into the world they have carefully designed. It builds, each moment growing more and more intricate and awe inspiring. By the end you are left speechless, unsure how to recount what you have just seen. So you stand to your feet and applause like there is no tomorrow. You clap for the performers and their execution of a difficult and unique show.
But did you notice the writer? He was there the whole time. I bet you didn’t. I bet you didn’t even clap for him.
Yes, the actors did a fantastic job of filling your past few hours with a visual experience you are not soon to forget. And that’s great. They’ve accomplished their goal. But… they did not design the story. They did not create the plot. That was the writer’s work.
Somewhere behind every piece of work you watch for entertainment purposes there is a writer. You didn’t see him/her though while you sat riveted at that acrobat’s feet. You never heard them during the music that played. You didn’t laugh with him/her when the silly pair flirted obscurely. And you know what? That was the point.
You see, when a writer does their job well then you never see them. All you see is the story. You are engulfed in the colors and words before you never once seeing who wrote it. That means when you didn’t clap for him, he could smile. He had done it right.
One of the worst feelings for a writer would be for you to see them the entire time. If the words don’t flow correctly or the performers switch from Swan Lake to Batman in the middle of a leap you’d probably be scratching your head. When their work pays off then you only see the final result. Not the script nor the editor. You are pulled through emotions and are putty in their hands.
Now, when you get the chance to talk about your work as a writer it does make you feel great to know you are admired. When people hear that Tim Burton wrote a new movie script people jump to work with him. And while some of it is his “Burton” style of animation and illustrations, the rest is that he can tell a good story. And with the right tools, he doesn’t even have to tell the story.
While you look at me confused allow me to explain. Corpse Bride. If you ever have the chance to view it on DVD or Blue-ray take it. Then go find the setting for the music only viewing and watch it. He compiles such an awesome team that he doesn’t even need to give his characters voices. He writes so well that the characters need no explanation, they simply illustrate the story for you.
So next time you see any show think about the writer(s). And if you are a writer and people look at you funny just remember this post. If you are invisible and yet they know your work, you’ve probably done something right.
Have a good one!