Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Pirate

Who doesn't love a good pirate story? Unfortunately, they've been pretty scarce until the recent Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 sailed across the big screen. These movies have been very successful. Though fun to watch, there are things to be learned from each of these movies that can help improve your writing, things that will help bring out the inner pirate hiding inside of you.
Lately, I've been watching the movies while wearing a pirate medallion, skeleton earrings, and saying “arrr” a lot. I've even made myself a purse from pirate fabrics. So what, right? What this has done has enabled me to get in touch with my inner pirate and this hopefully translates to my writing.
What can we learn from watching POTC over and over? Aside from the obvious-Johnny and Orlando are totally hot-writers and pirates have many things in common. I've listed a few of them below. See if you can discover others hiding within you.
--Be passionate about everything.
--There must be something worth dying for, worth claiming as your own ,and worth giving up your old life/habits for.
--There must be action, there must be sweat, and even a few tears.
--If you're afraid, you can't show it. Never let the enemy see fear in your eyes.
--Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. If none are coming, you need to make something happen to change your current situation.
--Honor and integrity do not come without a price.
These are values not often taught in the film industry, but are embraced by the outlaws of society-the pirates.
As writers, how can we use these teachings of pirate characters?
For one, dress the part. I find when I wear my pirate attire, minimal though it is, I take on an entirely different attitude than my usual charming self. I'm bolder, more daring, and take more risks in my writing than usual.
Adventure and discovery: A pirate captain is always on the lookout for some new, undiscovered artifact, treasure, jewel or booty. Discover a new layer in your story that has been hidden. Is there an adventure for your characters to be had that deviates from the original plan you had mapped out for them? Can you take them through waters previously uncharted in your synopsis? (And don't forget about some unplanned booty!)
--Permit yourself to be wild and uncharted, fierce and deadly, in your writing.
--Learn to sail foreign waters. You may find success outside your comfort zone.
--Take no prisoners.
--Throw your hat in the air!
--Laugh, even when you're fighting the bad guys, enjoy it.
--Drink lots of rum. (Well, in moderation anyway)
--Lie on a beach once in a while and soak up the sun. (We all need more Vitamin D anyway)
--Curse a lot when things go wrong
--Raise a ruckus when there are things to celebrate—even the small stuff.
--Never, ever make a deal with a sea monster.
Being a pirate is mostly about attitude and making other people believe you're a pirate. Didn't Jack Sparrow introduce himself as Captain Jack Sparrow each and every time? He always corrected those who didn't address him properly. Even without a ship we believe he is Captain Jack because he makes us believe it with every breath he takes. Even without a contract you are a writer. It is your job to make us believe it. Not that you have to go to the lengths Sparrow does to get what he wants, but get used to thinking of yourself as a writer.
I just really wish I had his compass.
Other things to learn from pirates:
The art of negotiation is truly an art and it's never the same twice.
There are very few rules to being a pirate. Forget the rules and write.
Evolution of Character. Will Turner changed the most in these stories, but he still always maintained his honor and his integrity. Even though he became an undead creature enslaved to the sea for an undetermined period of time, he was still totally hot and true to his cause.
May the trade winds always keep you on the right course. May there always be enough rum, and may there always be enough booty (whatever kind you like) to satisfy you.
So put on your pirate hat, crank up the POC soundtrack, and get in touch with your inner pirate.