22 January, 2012, Spoken Versus Written Rhythm

The best part of my little test of LibreOffice last week was that wasn't even close to what I had planned on writing about. I had actually had something on my mind. Sure, just one of those things that probably wouldn't interest anyone other than my own little self but that's hardly the point. I had actually had something I thought I could ramble on about, which doesn't happen as often as I might like. It's that whole dilemma I refuse to stop going on about.

I want updates on my website. Stagnation is death and all of that. Sure, I've got no reason to believe that anybody is paying attention to the website; therefore, it don't matter none if it's updated. Hardly the point. Stagnation is death, as already stated at the beginning of this paragraph.

However, I don't want updates just for the sake of updating. That's even worse than stagnation. Boring people out of their minds with the shear triviality of the updates. Good way to drive people away even faster than a stagnated site.

My dilemma and I won't shut up about it. Shows why I can get so excited when I do think of something I'm vaguely interested in writing about here. Having a topic. Oh, joyous rapture.

So, what the hey? Basically rehashed the story of picking a word-processing program. Oh, well, it was something to write about. Kept my focus and attention and all of that. And, oh, look. Once again, I haven't gotten to my topic. Shocking that.

Probably just goes to show in my heart of hearts that the thing I wanted to write about can't really be sustained for more than a sentence or two. State the idea. Discover the simple statement of the idea is all I've got. Panic. Wondering how else to fill the page. Don't really want to post short journal entries. Seems so trivial. That's what Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter are for.

So, maybe that's just exactly what I need to do. Post short journal entries for a change. Could grow something from that if only I gave it the chance. People probably hate these pointlessly meandering and disjointed journal entries as much as anything else. Short entry. Just go with it, right?

Anyway, I've been going over the few scenes I've actually written of the Shakespeare project with the intention of actually writing more of the damn thing. All part of shaking the dust off and all of that. Work the kinks. Stretch. Get in the groove. Etc.

Anyway, I keep rewriting the third line of the first scene. Going back and forth between two options. "It is true" and "It's true." Yeah, seriously. No idea how many times I've scribbled one out and written the other. Just one of those things that matters to nobody other than my own little self, but it is important. Right at the beginning. Those first few lines are rather important. Strong desire to get them right.

Okay, as can be discerned from the wording options, it is a line of dialogue, and it's been driving me nuts. Go with the more formal or the more natural. Every time I imagine the line being said, I want to use "It's true." Every time I read the line, I want to use "It is true."

Now, this has nothing to do with characterization or what this particular character would actually say. I know, sure. You can tell a lot about character based on whether they are more or less likely to use contractions. But, here's the thing. It don't matter none. Even people who are more likely to use one than the other can on occasion use the one they typically shy away from. Context is really important and all of that. If I universally made sure the character used one and absolutely never used the other, that would feel incredibly contrived and artificial.

I guess you could say there's a real art to this. Knowing when to display a character tick and when to let the natural flow of the moment carry the text along. Thus, the writer goes insane over things the audience probably never notices, creating yet another wild monstrosity for the poetry hunters to track.

So, I scribble one. Read it again. Scratch out. Scribble the other. And, it's not even about character. This is a case where establishing character through the use of a contraction or not is utterly irrelevant. The concern here is flow. Feeling whether it is more natural to use the contraction.

I've even resorted to reading the passage aloud, and every time, I use the contraction. So, I scribble in the contraction. It's just more naturally spoken. Then, I read the passage over. Scratch out the contraction. Write both words. Speak it aloud. Or, really, just think speaking words as I read it over and know the contraction is what would be used.

Really, we've got wild poetry in the making here, and it's not even a poem.

Finally had a brainstorm, and I suddenly understood the problem. We're about to get seriously into the arcana of writing here. The kind-of thing that most of the universe and everything in it probably never even considers. Or, I'm just being pompous. Take your pick.

It's all about the rhythm, and the spoken word and the written word have different rhythms. Seriously, true. Reading something is different than speaking it. They flow differently. This is why so many writers will tell you they say the lines aloud after having written them to make sure they actually flow as speech. Very important for something meant to be spoken. Movies, plays and television and things like that. Why you can say something sounds very artificial. The written word wasn't properly evaluated for it's spoken rhythm before it reached an audience.

Thing to remember is that the spoken rhythm is not automatically more important then the written rhythm. They both have their place. Important to remember, and the heart of my brainstorm.

While "It's true" is more naturally spoken and more than likely what the character would have said under the circumstances, the contraction simply doesn't fit the rhythm of the written scene. It needs "It is true" for the flow to work. Amazing. Glad I finally recognized the problem. Simple solution, too. Accept the rhythm that works for the situation.

This Shakespeare project is a written work meant to be read. While a spoken version may or may not occur at some point given the natural order of world events, this version is intended to be read. Not even out loud. Read in the quite corners of one's mind.

So, I've plunked down "It is true," and I have absolutely no intentions of changing it at any point in the foreseeable future. The unforeseen future will just have to fend for itself.

And, there's not much chance I'll get hung-up on the language should there ever be a spoken version. Just take a look at the written version of The Faire Folk of Gideon and compare it to the audio version. I made changes to fit the flow of the spoken word all over the place in that one.

Of course, I don't know anyone who has admitted to listening to it so I don't really know how well that worked out. I know what I think of it, but that hardly matters. Anyway, contemplating the great audio ham that I am is a topic for another day.

Now, go away.

copyright © 2012 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved