While in the midst of writing a novel I spend a lot of time daydreaming my way through this situation or that conflict, often fully aware that a particular scene will remain in my head (often too damned sentimental). Yet these scenes form much of the novel’s texture.

Sydney Pollack once told me many years ago that everything you do in a film remains in it. Even if the scene is not there in the end, the actor found that moment and experienced it and it’s in the next shot, the DP understood that moment and it’s in the next frame, the director had that moment and so it’s in the next frame. There’s a stain of intention and purpose which permeates the whole film. Certainly, experiencing the moments informs everything else in the film as well, and so I’m hoping that some of the qualities that we found in that moment obtained elsewhere or certainly informed the way we cut elsewhere – what we were looking for elsewhere in the performances or in the look.
–from Minghella on Minghella

So don’t be afraid to cut and cut and cut.

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3 thoughts on “The power of the unscene

  1. Nick 13 years ago

    David Mitchell does that, between books . . . he talks about it in an interview I can send you.

    I especially like the idea of a major character in one story appearing as a bit-part in another. Rather like casting a star in a cameo just so the audience can nail ‘who they are’ instantly.

  2. Lee 13 years ago

    I really like your idea of an old soul, reincarnated spirit. More and more I’m toying with idea of picking up a character from Mortal Ghost for some new work; or perhaps writing linked short stories, so that I can continue to develop a certain group of people over several years of work.

  3. Nick 13 years ago

    To take this a stage further: the protagonist of my new work-in-progress is a character who’s been kicking round in my head for years, and has been either a central or supporting character in at least three other abortive story ideas, that were nonetheless quite well developed before being abandoned. So this character seems to carry some ‘traces’ of those other stories which never took place, and seems to have been changed by them. So she is an ‘old soul’, a reincarnated spirit, even. I’m sure I’m not imagining that she is far more interesting and complex for this ‘pre-treatment’. If only one had the energy to do this for every character . . .