I am an actor. That’s how I pay for the luxuries in life like food and health insurance. I love writing, but sometimes I arrive at awkward crossroads where the actor and author within my poor little brain begin to war. I’m in rehearsal for a play right now. It’s good and funny, but it’s no Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams. There are shows in which the words are the meat, and this is not one of them. But still, the director asked for us to be word perfect on the script. What he really meant was don’t paraphrase the lines in a way that changes the intent. Don’t cut out the “bless her heart” or the insert the word sweetie into every line. But one of the actors decided to take notes and lecture us for an hour about every and, is, this, and that. Needless to say, it took everything I had in my tired rehearsal soul not to tear her pony tail off her snotty little head. I mean, she was an actor and shouldn’t have been doing anything like that anyway. But there was also the anger of what fits in my mouth and my brain is not this, it’s that, so I will say that because I can’t stop an entire scene to fix it for you.
But then, there is the author in me. The part of my brain that pours over my manuscript to make sure that every word is perfect, even the thats and this(es). I read my books aloud during edits to make sure the words all fit well in my ears. If someone were to read my book aloud, would I be angry if they said it’s instead of it is? Would I even notice? As a writer, you torture yourself over every word. As an actor, I’m more concern about the fake martini I’m trying to balance in my hand.
Where does the importance on the individual words stop mattering in the grand scheme of the story? Is being word perfect as important as the story you’ve created? What matters more: characters or conjunctions?