Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weird in the Name of Art

I once made arrangements for myself to drive to another town in another county, meet with a dojo owner and his number one sidekick, where they would act out a few sword-fight scenes that I could video tape for the purpose of being able to write what I saw.

This guy was a big-deal sword master. I'd been put in contact with him by the local karate guy who was giving one of my sons lessons. I felt pretty lucky to have made the contact and that he was willing to work with me.

Mind you, this was back in the 90s when video cameras were as bulky and heavy as a boom box (which by then were shrinking, thank goodness) and the VHS tape could go right from the camera to your VCR.

Mr. Dojo was an inch shorter than me, very American and a bit full of himself. The latter aspect worked well as my lead pirate character. His buddy was just this side of Hodor (size-wise), which did not work well as my lithe female opponent, but he was handsome and had a sweet, shy smile that he kept offering me so I was willing to forgive him.

We discussed what I wanted scene-wise and Mr. Dojo set up pads and various dojo items I-do-not-know-the-name-of to represent ship masts and edges of the boat. I marked the capstan, the steps to the poop deck and such. Then I sat back and they did what they do. Not with real swords mind you, but with wood equivalents.

Since there were multiple scenes of sword play in my not-likely-to-ever-get-published pirate story, they created several scenes from beginning to resolve. And they did it like it was easy. Well, it was easy for them. But at that time blocking characters around a fight scene was intimidating.

I learned a lot from them, and from that excursion. Interviewing people as an author can be quite fun. Especially if you're treating the interviewee(s) to lunch at a Chinese buffet after their efforts.

While interviewing people who know what you need to learn to write the story you have to tell isn't weird, it was the first time I did so it was weird to me...but I didn't let it stop me. There's things you have to do for your art. The first time, it may be awkward, but take it in stride and being willing to learn--that's what you're there for!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like fun. Another thing you could do is locate a SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) region near you. They have sword fights and training and junk. (Or at least they did when my oldest brother took me to his meetings back in the late 80s. I know he's still into it, and still makes rattan swords, armor, etc.)