Title: Imágenes Narradas. Cómo hacer visible lo invisible
Author: Coral Cruz
Gabi highly recommends this small booklet (“Narrated images”), and many times commented that he could come up with a magic lecture based on each of its chapters, and no wonder since its titles alone have your imagination going. The chapter titles are presented and translated below, since unfortuantely there is no English version of the book yet.
In his quest to find books that open doors and get to the core of specific topics of his interest, either scripting, aesthetics, brain and consciousness, cinema, philosophy, Buddhism or any other, Gabi recalls this recurring experience. You first stumble upon thick and lengthy manuals and reference books and after some time, if you keep digging diligently, a book makes its appearance when you are kind ready for it… regardless the topic it tends to share some common characteristics such as being somewhat short (100-200 pages), to the point and tremendously inspiring. It makes sense that if a person really masters a topic, such as Coral Cruz does in this case, she does not need hundreds of pages to unfold her knowledge. In “Imágenes Narradas” she pours on a few pages her wisdom distilled and exemplified in a few specific very well selected cases without aiming to cover all aspects or generalize, fleeing from cheap formulas an tricks, but rather displaying in a very suggestive and concise manner a series of guidelines and principles at work.
- How to daydream (Cómo soñar despierto)
- How to think through images. (Como pensar en imagines).
- How to tell apart two drops of water (Cómo distinguir dos gotas de agua)
- How to disrobe a soul (Cómo desnudar el alma)
- How to make them hear the silence. (Como hacer que suene el silencio)
- How to say everything without a thing (Cómo decirlo todo sin decir nada)
- How to show yourself without being seen (Cómo mostrarse sin ser visto)
- How to cut the skin open without bleeding (Cómo cortar la piel sin que salga sangre)
- How to breath life to the dead (Cómo resucitar a un muerto)
- How to caress inside (Cómo acariciar por dentro)
- How to surprise while being predictable (Cómo sorprender siendo predecible)
- How to make ends meet (Cómo hacer que los extremos se toquen)
- How to invent a new universe (Cómo inventar un universo nuevo)
In the following text you can find a summary and some quotes from the different chapters:
1 How to think through images (Cómo soñar despierto): In this first chapter, the author talks about the need to translate thoughts and feelings into images, so as not to fall into a description lack of emotional force.
“Action must replace thought at all times. Feelings, reflections, doubts and dilemmas of the characters have to be translated into visible and or audible actions”.
“Translation of thoughts and feelings into images”.
“The exercise is very simple, you just have to think of a visual action that replaces the enunciation of a reality”.
“Scripts can be full of the so little dramatic verb to be. This in the vast majority of cases could be substituted by any predicate verb that implies an action”.
“Being scared to not be understood take us to make annotations that clarify that action or gestures that we invented. The result is a style repetitive since it ends up saying the same thing twice or advancing information too soon”.
2 How to tell apart two drops of water (Cómo distinguir dos gotas de agua): In this chapter she talks about how two different authors can tell the same story in very different ways, depending on their world view. For this, the authors must create appropriate spaces, relationships with other characters, situations and a tempo that helps to communicate the vision of the story that you want to communicate.
“The way of visualizing a specific action will depend not only on your personal approach to story but on your vision of the world”.
“The first thing to do is to invent a diegetic universe where you can embed the story”. “It does not matter so much what we explain but how we do it… Our vision of the story will always be its main value”.
3 How to disrobe a soul (Cómo desnudar el alma): In this chapter the author focuses on how highlighting small details in the scenography, objects or costumes of a character can tell us fundamental things about him, adding richness to the story and experience that we are offering.
“… How to distinguish between a clarifying detail and an expendable one? Let’s say that whenever an apparently superficial element allows us to connect with the background of the story, the theme or a character, this element becomes automatically relevant and, therefore, must appear described in the script”.
4 How to make them hear the silence: This chapter talks about how we should pay attention to textual language and subtext to subtly enrich the information we want to give.
“The worst thing that can happen to a script is that just by reading its dialogues the story is understood perfectly”.
“In our own life we rarely speak without saying something else at the same time. So what we do says a lot about our personality”.
5 How to say everything without a thing (Cómo decirlo todo sin decir nada) : This chapter addresses two very important concepts, the first one is how to create images with metaphorical and symbolic content. The second is how to expose the theme through this images in order to do not present the subject in a dogmatic and simplistic way.
“When a scriptwriter is able to translate an idea into an image, the way to reach the audience is shortened a lot.”
“The poetic effect is not achieved just by creating a beautiful picture.”
“Images with more metaphorical power tend to be perfectly intertwined with thenarration. It does not matter that they are linked with the traditional canons of beauty.“
“To be able to invent images that make our ideas transcend, we have to know very well the theme of our story. The theme makes your story talks beyond the facts that narrates … The theme is an essential, and indivisible element of the plot.”
“Once the screenwriter understands the “why“ and the “what”is when he is ready to take decisions about the “how”.
“The theme of a film should never be explained openly, if we do not want to fall into the dogmatism and simplification.”
6 How to show yourself without being seen (Cómo mostrarse sin ser visto): This chapter talks about hiding and dosing information (or exposing information through non-literal forms) in order to create tension, intrigue and mostly surprise.
“The poetic is a territory where the scriptwriter can become tremendously clear about what he wants to explain, thanks to the lack of semantic literalism.“
“In a good movie, knowing the plot is not a problem to continue enjoying it.“
7 How to cut the skin open without bleeding (Cómo cortar la piel sin que salga sangre) : This chapter talks about time management in cinematic narrative and how to use the ellipsis to speed up narration, or to create interest to engage the viewer.
“Cinema is synonymous with movement and that makes it the art of time.”
“The time of a story is compressed through the use of ellipsis.”
“Normally, we are so concerned with collecting all the necessary scenes, that we forget to what extent hiding some of them could help us intensify what we show.“
“The lack of pieces keeps the interest, while you are entertained trying to fill in the gaps your involvement with the story is guaranteed.“
“Hiding something can force us to propose metaphorical alternatives to the visualization of certain actions.”
“It is convenient to consider what is the end of a scene and its connection with the next.”
8 How to breath life to the dead (Cómo resucitar a un muerto): This chapter, entitled Flashback vs evocation, talks about how sometimes it is necessary to go to a scene from the past to complete information that is required for different reasons … The chapter questions if flashback is always the more elegant way to give that information from the past or if there are other more subtle ways.
“A well-built character leaves traces on the surface of the physical world he has inhabited, this traces are not easily erased, even if the character disappears from the story for a certain period of time.“
“The flashback becomes obvious when there is no dramatic intention beyond the pure illustration of a memory.“
“Hide to discover.”
“Evoke without the need to rewind, the less visible is the narrator hand in climatic moments, the easier it will be to make the track of emotion prevail over that of the reason.”
“Even the most sophisticated narratives tend to opt for transparency in the moments that require a high emotional involvement of the viewer. “
9 How to caress inside (Cómo acariciar por dentro) : This chapter talks about how to touch the emotions of the viewer looking for notes, images, moments, objects … that are sown and used during the structure of the piece to reach an emotional climax with them.
“The films that best make us reflect the most are also those, which with more wisdom, work the channel of emotion.“
“We need to work on paper certain elements that guarantee us the achievement of a minimal emotional impact.“
“A script is as a musical score, in which the parts have a relationship with the entire composition.“
“It is about distilling to the maximum until we get a single drop of the potion we are looking for.”
10 How to surprise while being predictable (Cómo sorprender siendo predecible): This chapter is an extension of the previous one.
“Repetition makes very difficult to surprise the viewer. Despite of this, the suspense resulting from knowledge can be much more interesting than the surprise effect, which is always more ephemeral.”
“A chorus gives the certainty that it will sound again, but also that it will never do it the same way.”
“Our great achievement should be to surprise the viewer when he does not expect to be surprised, because he has already gotten used to repetition “
11 How to make ends meet (Cómo hacer que los extremos se toquen): This chapter talks about the importance of the end of our story and how it should be related to the beginning.
“A story is not a story until it has an ending.”
“It is convenient to define which one will be the final image, It will be one of those which will last on the retina of the viewer”
“And that last scene / image should be closely related to the first scene / image that opens the script, because the beginning of something always determines the end.“
“The first impressions and the last ones… If he first impressions and the last one are memorable, the probabilities that the script as a whole will also last seem much greater. “
12 How to invent a new universe (Cómo inventar un universo nuevo): This chapter talks again about symbols and the poetic framework of a work.
“Tradition has made certain images universal, however if we all use always the same signs we would kill their poetic force turning them into simple signs of an established code, with which we would again go into the realm of literality.”
“I consider it important that the scriptwriter consider a symbolic universe for each of his plays.”