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We got a writing prompt for you today and an op-ed piece. I hope you enjoy it.
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What is a feature of a story that the writer has no control over?
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The One Thing That A Writer Can't Control - Op-Ed Piece
As a writer of the words that you are currently reading, and let’s face it, most likely skimming as you binge-watch House M.D. on youtube because one of those videos of his witty banter with dying patients can’t stop at one, and you devour another chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a, because that fast food place is bent on world domination through chicken and sauces, and they just may do it, I try to make this piece interesting for your caught up mind and a full stomach. The keyword in that long, poorly put-together sentence is try. I try a lot of things and fail at mostly all of them. I once tried to learn guitar, but that went as well as me understanding that I will never learn how to play guitar and that my time is probably better off doing something else. I do know what a riff is, not how to play one that is famous like Smoke On The Water, I only know how to identify a riff when I am listening to a song, and being that riffs are becoming more obsolete than blogs, I’d say that I got nothing out of my experience of learning the guitar. I’m sorry, trying to learn the guitar. I didn’t learn anything.
At this rate, these are the best lessons that I am getting:
House is an asshole.
Chick-fil-a is delicious.
I’ll never learn guitar.
I should probably stop blogging.
On a side note: I bet that Doctor House would love Chick-fil-a sandwiches. What’s not to like about the crispy sandwich with pickles? And don’t even get me started on that sauce? That is so good that I am convinced that there are drugs in them, somehow. They are like the doughnuts at Krispy Kreme; there is something going on because people are addicted to that stuff. I’d like to imagine that if I were a patient with House and I gave him a Chick-fil-a sandwich, he’d make a sarcastic remark and then enjoy the sandwich. I honestly don’t know if he would cure me. He’d definitely mock the idea of me being a blogger, which is kind of a softball pitch, really. I’d mock him for being British, and then he’d mock me for being American. He somehow has a better American accent than me, and I am the one born in the land of the rock, flag, and eagle.
What was I talking about again? There was a point to this rant, I swear. Ah…. Yes. I remember now. I was going to talk to you about that one thing that a writer can’t really help themselves with when it comes to a story.
It turns out there is a bunch of stuff that a writer can learn to make their stories interesting. I know, right? There are actual tricks of the trade to make you find this interesting. This whole time I thought writers just rambled on for no reason until they ran out of stuff to say. Not that I would know anything about that. I use the tactics and strategies to get you to like this as House says another wiseass remark. Yes, I do that all the time.
The thing that I am talking about here is chemistry between actors: It is the one part that a writer can’t prepare for when jotting down their notes, plotting stories, and planning their wordplays.
The moment when you are watching a show or movie, and say, “Man, these two actors have such great chemistry.” How do you prove it exactly? Is there a test that House can run for actors to show that they are chemistry positive? We all say that line about some of our favorite shows and movies, and sometimes the dynamic between the two people in the scene overshadows the actual dialogue, but do any of us know what the hell it is? Okay, I know that House knows what chemistry is, but seriously why do we acknowledge this yet not know of what it means?
Are we saying that the actors know their lines better and that they don’t need many takes to nail them? Do they have good timing when talking to one another? Are they both professionals when dealing with one another? You can see when two actors know their lines. You see that they don’t need many takes. You see the quick timing. You seem professional, but how do you see “good chemistry”? Saying that two actors have “good chemistry” is a bullshit term we all use but doesn’t have a physical backing to it. Kind of like when one of those sports analysts says that the team has “good energy” What the hell is that? Do they have good stamina? (which you can see) Are they in better shape than the other team? (which you can also see) Are they moving around more? (and yes, you can see that too) But how do you see “good energy” exactly? When a team plays well, we say it is because of the “good energy,” and none of us even knows what energy is. We say energy and chemistry as general terms to describe something that we couldn’t define otherwise. Plus, isn’t there actual chemistry and energy that scientists discovered? There is literally a table of elements for chemistry, and energy is divided into kinetic and potential. So we can’t use those terms and then pretend like we don’t have any more about them cause we do. Seriously, we have a whole freaking chart for chemistry.
The back and forth between two people in a show or movie, when done right, is magical. In fact, it is more magical than any words that a writer can put on a piece of paper. (Yes, that is hard for me to admit) I understand why an actor strives for it because the chemistry (there I go, using the term in a general sense) between two actors, when done right, is truly great to see. It is like we are seeing life itself happen before us. The art of life is the art that is being acted out before us and presented in such a natural way; we can’t help but love it.
Great writing is needed in order for a show or movie to do well, even though the writers get no credit and are basically ignored on the red carpet, as everyone flocks towards the actors and actresses who say the great lines that the writers created. Sure, we all want selfies with big-time actors, but where is the love for the great writer? Nowhere. Anyway, a show or a movie with chemistry and great writing are what is needed for it to be a classic.
Now, how the hell do you get this? Is there a factory that I can order two actors that have a good repour? Maybe House can prescribe a drug for some actors to take for them to really get close to one another while on set. I am sure that is what can do it. Drugs cure everything else; why can’t they cure the lack of chemistry two actors have with one another? This chemistry thing that everyone is talking about must be available somewhere for those actors who are so devoted to their craft to get some. Actors can change every part of their body, and even their own names, but can they go anywhere to get chemistry with another actor? No. The one thing that makes acting special can’t be bought, trained, or even found most time.
I want to tell you that obtainment of this “chemistry” requires much practice and years of training between the two actors, but we know that is not the case. There are times when two people who had not met before or worked together sit down and read a manuscript, and something happens. They click, and the energy (there I go using that word again) in the room changes. Everyone knows of the magic that they experienced as they saw the two actors communicate, and they didn’t rehearse or even know each other beforehand. Explain that one House. (Actually, don’t, I don’t like getting shot down mid-rant. And give me back my Chick-fil-a sandwich! I was a damn fool to let you try it.)
We are in a time where numbers and stats run our repetitive thoughtless lives, and you are going to be more bombarded than Britain was during World War 2. Is that a bomb hitting your building? No, it’s more numbers and statistics to wear you down. Good luck. You check your follower count every time you turn on a device. There is a certain amount of likes that your posts get that you are always quick to note. Your phone updates you on the weather, the time, and “important news” constantly. Probably even more than your own friends. Perhaps even at your job, you have noticed that you are nothing more than a number to the larger company you spend most of your days with. When someone looks at you on the reports sheet, you are a login code and password so that they can pay you. The higher-ups neither know you or your face. You are only a number to them. Numbers have taken over our lives so much that we have become them. You are your follower count. You are the number of likes that your post gets. You are the time that you see on your phone. You are the number that the boss prints on the report. When asked to identify yourself, you are not seeing the person inside of you, the being that makes you whole, but rather arbitrary numbers and statistics that you feel capture your identity in the way you think fits you. If you ever want to know why the world is full of depressed people, it is because they all act like they are numbers yet feel like humans.
Yet, through all of this, the sandwich empires that come and go, the incessant information at our fingers, we must ask this question; why do we watch movies and shows? What appeals to us so much as to have two people be put in a situation in a story and go back and forth with one another? It is because we enjoy seeing two people talk in a certain magical way, a magical way, that no writer who rambles on, asshole doctor, or overdone statistic can even understand. It is the magic of acting and storytelling.
No matter how advanced we become or what we claim to get, we like seeing two people naturally perform in a way that we can see life itself portrayed.
We hope you enjoyed this piece. Nothing here for you, but the usual stuff.
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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