The Creative Spark! – Read Not Just Minds, But Between the Lines

Do you try to read minds? Well, reading minds can hurt you or help you, depending on your style.

For instance, Judith Weston, in her book, The Film Director’s Intuition, approaches script analysis by finding three ways to interpret character actions?line-by-line?kind of like reading minds. Yes, directors have it tough. Not only do they read Shakespeare, but they analyze Romeo’s motives from multiple angles?line-by-line. But let’s face it, directors and actors don’t read scriptwriter’s minds. Nor should they. Why? Because the director or actor has his or her own inner world.

For instance, you could read my motives in ways my loving papa never would. And the person who loves you most would read your motives differently than your arch-enemy would. But my boyfriend often interprets my motives better than I could myself. He has the intuition of someone tied into a higher consciousness.

Yes, reading minds, when done with multiple possible explanations, can enhance awareness. But reading minds, when done as a knee jerk reaction, can get you into trouble. That’s why you need to learn not just to read minds, but to read between the lines.

Judith Weston (in bold below) shows you how to read minds in script analysis. I show you how to read between the lines in your essays.

Typically, one or two facts define the character the most. For instance, if you are writing about King David in the Bible, the two defining facts about him include (1) he is a warrior King and (2) he loves God. Similarly, with any character you write about, find the two defining features?and react to them in your analysis.

Also, find the central facts that define the authors you cite. Perhaps the author on inclusive education has a grown son with a developmental disability. Once you find the central facts, react with your own insights. For instance, you could react by saying, “I read a book by a high-profile prof who had a learning disability. And he fought against a lifetime of segregation into ’special classes’.” True story.

Find the defining facts and relate to them or resist them.

Ask yourself questions of characters, such as “What is omitted?” and “What are the characters’ values and weaknesses?” and “What ugly truth do the characters hide about themselves?” We know that King David knocked out Goliath with a slingshot, but we know little about Goliath’s story. Was he a shoddy shoe cobbler who had to rely on killing for a living? Did his wife plea for him to stop battling the day David shot him? Was Goliath macho with an intellectual inferiority complex? Ask the ugly truth.

Delve into the secrets and omissions of characters and authors you cite.

When reading dense Shakespeare, translate each line into everyday English line-by-line. Similarly, when reading feminist Camille Paglia, or other prolific academics, translate every dense paragraph into plain English. I think Camille likes to write intellectual gobbledygook?but that’s how you get tenure. But, to understand her writing, simplify whole pages of thick prose to a handful of short ideas. Or go line-by-line, translating each sentence to something you’d say to a junior high kid.

But, the most mysterious line in a script may be the most important. If you’re reading an article, and you just can’t figure out a paragraph, dissect it. When you simplify a tricky paragraph, like cracking a code, you might expose a gem.

Now, go comment on Romeo and Juliet as if you were feminist Camille Paglia herself. As a thought experiment, take Paglia’s feminist commentary and copy and paste it into three unique interpretations of Romeo’s line-by-line motives. Then, psychoanalyze Camille. A paradox? I call it a creative spark.

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