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D for Devastation

Your character is there, surrounded only by enemies; they’re ready to destroy him physically or metaphorically (sometimes both). Sometimes the hero will survive; some other times, it’s his defeat that makes him great. Think about the end of 300, with the Spartans ready to die for their freedom, 300 against thousands of soldiers.

Their glorious death makes them heroes, as well as Sir William Wallace, in braveheart (if you didn’t watch the movie, please do so). I remember that when I was reading The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I was in a sort of panic, thinking about what would happen to the characters.

He mastered character creation so well that you feel what the characters feel and you won’t let anyone leave the scene. I read that book many times, in English, Italian and Spanish, and I thought I was reading it for the first time.

So, this last D is the one that lets you think about the worst. Your character is on one side of the battleground, and the opponent is laughing at him and ready to finish him; there isn’t no chance. A miracle? Maybe, but has to be a believable one.

Devastation.

If an angel comes from the sky and saves him, that’s when you say, “oh, come on, really?”. How comes it was never a single scene with an angel and now this creature arrives just in time? Why it didn’t come before, then? Why waiting the last scene to intervene if it was such a great and powerful creature?

Now, you have the four Ds in your hands, you know how to make the distance between the character and the primary desire, you know how to make it impossible and even beat your character so severely that everyone will think it’s the end (and a bad one).

Not all stories have to conclude with a good ending, so play it well; sometimes, it’s a good ending when your character dies as a real hero; other times, it’s a good ending when he triumphs in the last scene.

Not just that, use the 4 Ds when you’re writing the single scenes. Ask yourself:

  1. What is the objective of the character in this scene, the main desire?
  2. How to make this objective difficult?
  3. How to make this desire impossible?
  4. The desire seems gone, out of reach, but then… is it, really?

Let’s take Forrest Gump. He’s in love with Jenny Curran, from schooldays until the movie’s end. At the end of the film, there’s a perfect example of the 4 Ds; Forrest is rich and bored in his big mansion and hopes of seeing Jenny again. Sometimes he’s sure she’s coming, walking through his garden, but then it’s just an illusion, a ghost, a mirage. One day, he’s gardening when he sees Jenny coming again toward him. He thinks she’s again a ghost, but this time she’s real and she came for him.

  1. He loves Jenny so much that he only wants to see her again.
  2. He is in pain and he starts being delusional.
  3. We see jenny again walking through his garden, but we think it’s just a vision. He’s irremediably crazy.
  4. We were wrong, she’s there, coming back for him, finally reunited with Forrest and he’s finally happy.

All of these actions happened in no more than 2 minutes, but it’s one of the movie’s best scenes because of its pathos.

We finished with the 4 Ds! We’ll focus more on desires and objectives next time. Ready? Keep reading!

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D for denial

What is that new D?

We had to deal with two Ds before, one for desire and one for distance. The desire lets us know the character’s wishes and what lies underneath. A desire is something bigger than a simple “oh, I wish to arrive on time.” For instance, the small Neil wants to go to the Moon; he’s always watching that piece of rock fluctuating in the sky and promises himself to do it. He needs to enter a prestigious university to study hard; his wishes are many, but his desire is something else. Ultimately, he will succeed in being Neil Armstrong and having his feet walking on the Moon itself. As we saw, many things happened, but he was driven by a long-shot desire.

Denial, the third D.

Now, the Moon is far, far away from us and it seems impossible to reach, so we don’t only add small steps but some (as my wife would say) pepper to it. Yes, as when you’re cooking, and you decide that following the recipe, your meal would end up bland, so you choose to add some spices. As a good chef, you must understand how to modify the old-fashioned recipes of writing stories to make one unique and immortal for your readers. Neil wants to go to university, but he loses his father the day before. He’s stopped by a dilemma: stay and help mom and the other brothers and sisters, or leave and have a chance to go to the Moon one day? Well, it’s beginning to be an exciting story, right?

Now, welcome to the third D, which stands for denial. We decided that Neil wanted to go to the Moon and we spiced up and planted small traps along his path, so now we need to take another step in this direction. He won’t go to the Moon, or at least that’s what your reader would have to believe and you need to let them. 

I remember the first time I read about the Milgram experiment, which took place in 1960. It’s a famous experiment where ordinary people were paid to inflict pain on others, to the extent that they would kill the unlucky ones. Only a very believable staff would let people think that, at Yale University, people would ever be allowed to inflict pain on other human beings and maybe even kill them for an experiment. But that’s precisely what happened. I mean, not killing people, but cheating them, letting them think that was possible. And that’s precisely what we need to do with our readers. They need to believe that Neil lost his father, so he won’t be an engineer and go to the Moon (come on, really? The Moon?). Later he should have to decide if he has to stay with his young wife, who is pregnant now, or go to explore the universe. The readers have to think he won’t, that Neil is the kind of man who decides to stay with her no matter what, especially at that moment. 

This D is the final decision, the most decisive, where Neil has to prove himself worthy of us reading his 230 pages story. He won’t go to the Moon but wait for a second. He’s already there. I went a moment to the toilet and bam! He’s there, closing his eyes for the countdown! So he did it in the end, that son of a preacher! What happened right there? Something like his wife coming to him, telling him that she will survive alone, but not thinking that she took this life dream from him. Their son needs to have a happy father, while a frustrated man would be worst than a dead one.

This was the third D. Next will come the last one of these beautiful fatty letters, D for Devastation. Keep always reading!

L’invenzione del nome

Una storia dal deserto

Vedete, ho scoperto tempo fa che chi scrive lo fa per motivazioni molto diverse. Scrivere è un esercizio complicato. Mettiamola così: per me scrivere è mettere nero su bianco, su un pezzo di carta o dentro un file, le idee che ronzano incessanti dentro la mia testa.

C’è chi parla da solo, io invece provo a mettere tutto su un foglio. Provo a rendere parole altrimenti vuote come “incomunicabilità”, “dissonanza”, “forza di volontà” storie intere. E i personaggi mi aiutano tanto in questo.

Parlare con se stessi

L’invenzione del nome, Daniele Frau

La parte più complicata, quando si decide di scrivere e di rendere pubbliche le proprie idee, è accettare le critiche. Immaginate se qualcuno che non conoscete vi fermasse nel bel mezzo della strada e vi dicesse:

“Ehi, sai che cammini in modo bizzarro? Dovresti iniziare a camminare in questo modo. Guarda me, oppure cerca di camminare come farebbe Bolt se non fosse impegnato a correre.”

Così, all’inizio si tende a prendere tutto sul personale. Ci sentiamo tutti Hemingway e ogni parola sembra scelta come si scelgono le pietre per una statua. Una su un milione.

Parlare con gli altri

Solo dopo qualche battuta d’arresto (leggasi colpo frontale dato da un ferro da stiro acceso) ci rendiamo conto che quel passante che ci ha dato il consiglio non era cattivo. Capiamo che in fondo nessuno è nato per scrivere, come nessuno è nato per dare consigli.

Tutto va imparato.

Lo stile

Ecco, sullo stile ci sono decine di libri che ho letto e che mi hanno segnato. Molti sono scritti in lingua inglese, ma il senso è semplice e utilizzabile in qualsiasi lingua.

L’idea di fondo è che lo stile deve essere rapportato al tipo di scrittura che si desidera portare avanti. La narrativa avrà uno stile, una lettera da inviare ad un amico ne avrà un altro, così come un diario. Poi c’è lo stile personale, tipico di ognuno di noi, che dovrebbe sempre tendere alla chiarezza e alla fluidità.

Fluidità

Non mi addentro oltre nell’idea di stile, ma chiudo parlando di qualcosa che mi sta davvero a cuore. Che cosa intendo con fluidità? La risposta a questa domanda è semplice.

Prendi in mano il tuo ultimo scritto.

Ora leggi a voce alta ciò che hai scritto e sentirai delle campanelle suonare vicino alle tue orecchie. Quelle campanelle sono un allarme innato. Lo stesso allarme che suona quando per la prima volta sentiamo qualcuno parlare e ha quel non so che di spiacevole.

“Oddio, ma sta leggendo!”

Si, odio quando la gente vuole dare l’impressione di star parlando a braccio, mentre in realtà sta leggendo da un gobbo. Meglio, molto meglio prendere un foglio in mano e leggere.

Leggere e rileggere a voce alta la tua storia ti permette di sentire l’anima dei personaggi, di provare a coinvolgerti davvero. Non leggere la tua storia come se stessi leggendo un libro qualsiasi. Perché è il tuo stile, lo sentirai tuo, saprai qual è il soggetto.

Leggendola a voce alta potrai sentire tutte quelle sfumature che pensavi fossero ben scritte e invece non lo erano. E magari inizierai ad essere tu il primo a criticarti, per migliorare sempre.

Per concludere

Spero che ciò che ho scritto qui possa esserti utile, nella tua ricerca quotidiana. Qui di seguito, trovi la mia ultima micro-storia pubblicata su Typee. Si intitola l’Invenzione del nome.

Buona lettura!

P.s. Io sono Daniele Frau, ma puoi leggere altre storie e micro-storie in italiano e inglese su Flyingstories.

Writers from Sardinia?

How big is this island?

Every day I meet people from all over the world (yes, even now that we’re living in Covid-19times). The question that people ask me more often is:

How comes you have your own language in Sardinia?

Yes, believe me, this question has been asked so many times that if they gave me 1 penny for each time I heard it… well, you know Bill Gates? He would be just a poor guy selling shoes if compared to me.

A complex island

The answer is yes, obviously. Sardinia has its own language, an history so complex and different from the Italian one, not to mention it is enormous. I mean it, it’s huge. When I think that the most famous nations-islands in the Mediterranian Sea, as Cyprus or Malta are respectively 9251 square km and 316 square km, I think it makes sense that we have a peculiar language in Sardinia (which is over 24 thousand square km). This idiom is called Sardo, or Sardinian.

Sardinian writers Daniele Frau graphics

I’m not going through with the history of Sardinia and its language. There’s so much literature about it that it would take my entire blog just to start the topic. Let’s summarise what Sardinian produced culturally in the last 100 years or so.

The star

Let’s start with the star: Grazia Deledda. She was born in 1871, and in 1926 this amazing woman received a Nobel Prize for literature. If this information doesn’t shock you, think about the fact that at the time she was only the second woman ever winning the prize. Furthermore, she was the first Italian woman in history to receive it. Interesting, huh?

Many others

You can quickly check the incredible number of writers Sardinia produced over the centuries. They spoke about what being a shepherd means, or to serve in the countryside since you’re just a child. They also wrote about the First World War, and more recently, with Accabbadora by Michela Murgia, you can jump in the reality of Sardinia in the Fifties.

Furthermore, these fantastic writers wrote in Italian, considered for a long time a second language in Sardinia. When I was a child (not so long ago), it was easy to meet old people speaking broken Italian, but fluent when they had to talk in Sardinian. Even though Sardinian was considered illegal to be used in schools for a long time, it was still used in everyday life. Nowadays, Sardinian is coming back to life, thanks to the hard work of many historians, linguists, and intellectuals.

What it means to come from an island?

As everything else, being from a fantastic island as Sardinia brings positive and negative outcomes. One of the negative ones is to be isolated from everything and culturally marginalized. The percentage of Sardinian with a university instruction level is one of the lowest in Italy, and with the crisis, the situation would only get worse.

That said, I hope next time you’ll hear in Sardinia they have their own language you won’t ask the same, one- penny, question.

Which stories Daniele Frau wrote? Have a look!

How to write a matryoshka

Everyone knows what a matryoshka doll is. The name means precisely what you see when you set your eyes on this strange object. You see a Russian woman, and the shape reminds you of an Egyptian sarcophagus. So, you’re expecting to find a mummy, inside?

And now something completely different

Searching in our Matryoshka

What happens is that, when you open your matryoshka, you find out it contains the same one but slightly different. It’ll remind you that present you received for Christmas, once. You got deceived by the size of the pack, but then the more you open it, the less you find. From a huge packet to a tiny present. But, what if the last one is a ring set with a diamond?

Next level, next stop

You remove as much layers as possible, one small Russian matryoshka after another. Yes, in the end, you want to find something important, you want to feel that all that fuss was necessary, the diamond is there waiting for you! And yet, after removing the last copy of your matryoshka, you realised that the last gift is an exact copy of the rest, but smaller.

I need to get upset?

Think about it, how many movies, piece of theatre and also books end up exactly as we expected from the very beginning? We remove one layer at the time, but we continue to see the same thing. Same characters, same flat plot, just smaller and smaller, but nonetheless the same. Nope, there’s no diamond awaiting for us most of the time, but just the old same matryoshka!

How to avoid matryoshkas

It’s quite easy to answer that question. Open up any book, read the first twenty lines and wait. Something inside yourself has to tell you that you’re not waisting your time. The style, the way the characrers are presented (or they’re not), how the plot is open under your feet to walk through it.

You are a Sherlock Holmes, and now in twenty lines, you have all that you need to understand if that book is right for you. At least book are honest, you don’t have to buy them to understand if you like them or not.

To be continued…

 

 

Anime Vive

L’idea

Anime vive_ Daniele Frau_libro Anime vive_ Daniele Frau_libro

Circa un anno fa, in questo periodo, prendeva forma una storia: Anime Vive. Questa storia aveva tre interpreti ed era raccontata in presa diretta da tre oggetti. Per quanto stramba possa sembrare, questa storia è stata interamente ispirata dal mondo che passeggia e si lega le scarpe sui marciapiedi di tutto il mondo.

Una vita in viaggio

Ho la fortuna di viaggiare quotidianamente per il mondo, vedendo come gli esseri umani trovino modi diversi per sopravvivere all’alienazione. Il costante senso di abbandono, di abisso dell’umanità, sta risucchiando anche le anime più ardite. Ho deciso dunque di creare una storia in cui un venditore di anime va alla ricerca della sua anima perduta.

La storia si complicherà quando pian piano si scopriranno tutti gli ostacoli che gli si prospettano davanti, siano essi psicologici o con le fattezze di un energumeno con un cappello.

Il libro

Il libro è stato stampato grazie ad un eccellente supporto, Youcanprint, che oltre alla stampa si è preso l’onere della distribuzione. Ad oggi, il libro è presente su Mondadori Store, IBS, ovviamente Youcanprint e tanti altri ancora.

Collaborazioni

Il libro va di pari passo con le immagini che lo accompagnano. Questo grazie alla collaborazione di un artista d’eccezione, Gabriele Manca. Eclettico (la sua Arte va dal disegno, fino alla creazione di oggetti di scena, maschere, fino ad arrivare alle esperienze in campo attori ale e clownistico), Gabriele con la sua DMQ Producions con base ad Rotterdam  ha avuto un impulso determinante per la riuscita del progetto. Non smetterò mai di ringraziarlo.

Prossimi progetti

I prossimi progetti saranno un tour di Anime Vive per tutta Italia, a partire molto probabilmente dalla metà di aprile. Vorrei che in qualche modo la lettura di questo libro e la sua discussione possano dare un punto di vista “altro” e spingere ad una riflessione quotidiana.

Buona lettura,

Daniele Frau

 

Flyingstories

Flyingstories

My new project

FlyingstoriesSeagulls in Dubai, Flyingstories

https://youtu.be/kY4FfefQygY

Every now and then I was thinking if it was right to put new stuff on this big ocean called Internet. With flyingstories I decided not to put anything else if not some stories from our travels around the world, some languages courses and some stories coming straight from my fantasy. What else? Just have a look!