The Waiting Exercise

Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here once again. My novelist is half-way through polishing the last book in her series for publication. We have been working hard to power through till the end. Many iced coffees have been drunk. My novelist has partaken of some as well. It is tough lying on a pillow and barking at strangers while she writes. I am exhausted. But the end of the tunnel is near, and the book release is drawing nigh. Without further ado here is my novelist.

Because extroverts have proven to be utterly brilliant at staying away from other human beings, wearing masks and not spreading disease during a pandemic, (ha!) I thought I would offer up one more acting exercise that is useful for writers called…The Waiting Exercise. Yes, genius this one is for you.

The beauty of this acting challenge is it is really two exercises in one. The first part is…waiting. The second part is having a secret prop on your person while you…wait. Essentially the character carries around an object no one else knows about except the actor or the character the writer creates. The writer’s choice to eventually reveal the object to the audience/reader is completely up to them. Here is how it works.

The actor picks a prop and gives it a history like the prop exercise from last week. The actor then picks a setting in which his character will…wait for someone or something such as a train station, a bus stop, an office, a drug store, a line at a post office, a movie theatre. It really does not matter. When the actor walks into the scene, they carry the secret prop with them on their person hidden from view, so it must be something relatively small unlike a 2020 ARGO FRONTIER 700 SCOUT 6X6 STK 19537 for example. Without using dialogue, the actor moves about the space and…waits.

Now, the actor needs to have a motive to…wait. It could be perhaps the secret prop in their pocket has something to do with it or not. The secret prop’s purpose is essentially to give the actor a way to gain access to the inner workings of the character. Something they can feel against their body or put in their pocket and move it around with their hand.

Let’s say your character is a college student. He lives in the dorm and he wants to score some Adderall from a baseball player on scholarship. The baseball player has a prescription because he was misdiagnosed with ADHD as a kid. And he is quite a con artist skilled at faking ADHD thus his ability to continue filling his prescription and selling off his meds to suckers like our hero for exorbitant prices. Our college student must go over to the baseball player’s fraternity and meet the guy there. Let’s say our hero has an inside track about the history of said fraternity and the place gives him the creeps. But he wants the Adderall because he is struggling in his physics class and he thinks he needs drugs in order to pass his midterms. So, there he is in the foyer of this notorious oversized house…waiting for the baseball player who is supposed to be there at four o’clock. Fraternity brothers who live in the house go in and out the door and make our hero uncomfortable threatened even. As he…waits, he looks around the place where he might see a neon beer sign, the fraternity’s coat of arms, a half-deflated blowup doll in the corner etc.

Now, in his pocket is his secret prop which no one knows about but him. The audience does not know either. But it should be something interesting. Let’s say it’s a flash drive and on said flash drive is something incriminating about our drug dealing baseball player. Incriminating enough the baseball player could get his scholarship taken away and possibly expelled. But the audience does not know this. Only the college student knows about the flash drive he keeps in his pocket as he…waits for the baseball player. The flash drive in our hero’s pocket may be the one thing keeping him in the room. Perhaps it gives him confidence or possibly something to bargain with should this nefarious drug deal go bad. Or perhaps it is an object which is painful for him to have. Maybe what is on the drive personally affects him or someone he cares about. Whatever it is, it affects the motivation for the college student to be in that fraternity foyer.

And that is the…waiting exercise.

I post every Thursday. That is the schedule. While you are waiting for my next blog post you can check out my novel Chicane on Amazon. Just as an update I am going to be publishing my book series on Amazon this summer. Look for information on my blog in the coming weeks for the release of the first book.

This week’s ScreenwritingU Friday Free Class (tomorrow) is Writing Scary As Hell Horror Scenes. You can sign up for it here.

 

SCREEN OF THE WEEK-UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE STORIES-BLUE VELVET & BUFFALO ’66-Amazon Prime

Blue Velvet (1986) is one of my favorite films and as a writer one of the most influential. Maybe because I grew up in the same area as David Lynch. Maybe because it accurately depicts the way it really is here in the northwest or at least how it was, even if the story is set in North Carolina. Since it is going off Amazon Prime on June 30, which is this coming Tuesday, I thought I had better feature it this week. It is the story of a college student named Jeffrey who has returned home after his father has a heart attack and finds a human ear in a field. Thus, begins Jeffrey’s odyssey through the strange underworld of his seemingly normal hometown. It would be sacrilege for me to tell you anything more.

Buffalo ’66 is a fantastic indie film. I remember seeing another movie written and directed by Vincent Gallo The Brown Bunny in the theatre and thinking it was is a superb meditation on its subject matter and I still do. Buffalo ’66 was his first full length feature as a writer/director and it is wonderfully funny, strange and tender. It is the story of Billy Brown who after serving five years in prison, not for a crime he committed but to pay off a bet he lost betting on the Buffalo Bills to a bookie (Mickey Rouke) is compelled to visit his parents (Ben Gazzara and Anjelica Houston). Along the way he wonders into a dance studio where he “meets” a girl named Layla. That is where things start to get wonderfully out of hand. Christina Ricci is magical as a powder blue tap dancer. Jan-Michael Vincent makes an appearance in a bowling alley. The film is uniquely shot in order to fill the audience in on some additional information and it works great. An absolute must see.

SMART FILMS FOR SMART KIDS-BENJI (Original 1974)-Amazon Prime

Benji is also an unconventional love story. In fact, there is a lot of love to go around in this heart warmer. Benji is a homeless mutt who goes about a small-town charming its inhabitants and surviving on both his wits and their hospitality. Along the way he meets a young brother and sister who want to adopt him. But their single father refuses to let them adopt the little guy. Benji however is not easily deterred. And when things turn dark it is up to the plucky pint-sized cocker spaniel/poodle/schnauzer to risk life and paw to set things right.

 

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