Monday, May 7, 2012

First Position

For those of you tuning in at home, Blog me MAYbe Mondays are MAY I tell you something about my writing? Here goes something about my writing but first we're going to pause and talk about ballet, and then get back to writing.

This past week I have sort of thrown myself head first into the world of ballet.  I took classes at my local gym when I was a kid, but I stopped after a few lessons. In sixth grade I picked up dancing again, but this time it was tap not ballet.

Still I've been a closet ballet freak my entire life.  I've never met a dance movie I didn't love, Center Stage, Turning Point, First Position. (Yes even all of those Step-Up movies--I've seen them ALL.) Every year, I get excited for the Nutcracker Ballet.  I enjoy going to see them and more so, I like learning about the dancers themselves and their training.

How does this have anything to do with writing? Because I am a research freak and one of my characters is in fact a ballet dancer.

I research because I am always looking to understand people who have completely different lives. My life is weird enough sure, I mean very few people I know have spent more time on the operating table than I have.  But as I started this rewrite of my novel, I found I needed to know more about being a dancer.  These are kids who at a very young age decide what they want to do.  They practice  every day giving up their childhood in order to achieve a dream.

In my first draft, there isn't a lot of dance references.  A few but not many.  As I went back through, I noticed there was not a lot of depth to the passages.  Right now my characters past did not round out her present.  Because I knew this had to add to her present and play a major role in her story, I dug back into the research.

I've spent hours on wikipedia reading about the different dances (I now need to find a company performing Coppellia because I really want to see it now) and looked through youtube videos of professional dancers, as well as watching documentaries on old ballet companies like Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and ones on new dancers like First Position which follows six dancers competing in the Young American Grand Prix.

Even though I knew how hard ballet was, I mean think about dancing on your toes for five seconds and I realize how much pain that it.  But my research gives me a whole different look at the world.  Yes it's hard but if you have passion and you love what you do, it's all worth it.  There are tons of little things I've picked up from my research, now it's time to let them simmer and what will come out will go into the story.

Do you research before you write? After? During?  What sort of things are you looking into now?

1 comment:

  1. I usually research before I write. The last thing I really looked into was how Broadway auditions work. That was fun--and completely out of my realm of experience! :)