Bird by Bird
Lamott reminds us that we can’t think too much about what we want to know about the people that we cover in our stories. We must get to know our characters as well as we can. We can look into ourselves to about how we present ourselves to others and use the same approach to how our characters present themselves to others and why. If we get to know our subjects well enough these whys can be revealed. She makes a good a point that you have to let the chips fall, as sometimes bad things can happen to good people. She also makes the point that we probably won’t get to know our characters until weeks or months after starting to work with them. Which reminds me why again I want to get involved in participant observation photo stories.
“Plot grows out of character.” This simple sentence is reminder that you can’t force plot. I take away from this that if you aren’t getting to know your subject and their character well enough, then a plot will not develop. When we get to know our characters then the plots will show themselves. Their has to be tension though or else the plot won’t feel like it is going anywhere. “The dream must be vivid and continuous,” Lamott says. Another good point Lamott makes is her ABDCE formula: Action, Background, Development, Climax and Ending.
Dialogue can make or break a story, even if the story is of interest. A good point she makes: “You’re not reproducing actual speech — you’re translating the sound and rhythm of what a character says into words.” One thing which I haven’t done but makes sense is to sound the words of the speech of our characters. It might look good on paper, but how does it move you when spoken? Second, the dialogue should be relatable to the character itself.
Hurn and Jay: Selecting a Subject
What I liked about this reading was the reminder that we must have intense curiosity when looking for subjects. We must have a fascination of our subjects so much that their complete story can be revealed. Something that I try and do which was reminded in this article to gather story ideas/subject selection is to carry around a notebook and to write when those ideas pop in your head or if you overhear people talking about something that is of interest to you. After that we can ask the questions of whether to pursue these ideas: Is it visual? Is it practical? Is it a subject about which I know enough? and Is it interesting to others? Lastly, we can keep asking what the secrets are of great photo storytellers but the article makes a great point — like what Walter Astrada reminded us in class: “[these photographers] are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subject matter and they plan ahead of the actual shooting.”