In Memory of Robin Williams
As the world mourns the loss of great actor and comedian Robin Williams, I remember the characters he had played and think: how I wish I could write the way he speaks. We all might know him as an actor and comedian, but not many of us (actually I think we all) knew that he had improvised many of the dialogues and conversations in the movies, Aladdin being one of them.
What does this have to do with writing? For starters, he was adept in using words; his ad-libs were funny and most importantly memorable. I was willing to trade my soul with the devil for his talent in making people laugh so easily in a conversation. How many of us would love to have his proficiency in storytelling, even though we write ours down and he does it in recording? Robin Williams may not be a writer, but if he had become one, I am sure that he would be a bestseller. He could make people laugh and cry at the same time, just by using words. Watching his past interviews, he was an honest person with his troubles and personal demons.
I feel that I learnt a lot about writing from the great man himself. For one, he was dedicated to the character he was playing. Looking at Mrs. Doubtfire, he played Iphegenia Doubtfire as well as Daniel Hillard, and his demeanour changed when he donned the mask. Just like that, we should be mindful of the personalities of the characters we create, and always stay true to them. However, it is harder than it seems, because many of us seem to prefer to adapt the character to the story, rather than creating a conflict that needs to be resolved, making the story more interesting.
Another thing that Robin Williams did well was his understanding of his audience; you would have to, if you want to entertain them. You could say that he is empathetic, or just a genius at reading people and that is why people love him. Understanding your audience is crucial if you want to sell your work, because if your work does not resonate with your readers, chances are they will not come back for more. Knowing your target audience, what pleases them, what offends them is important, so you can decide how far you want to push the envelope during a conflict.
As writers, our aim is to entertain and inspire our readers. Who better to look up to than the legend that has succeeded in doing both? He was an artist who brought people together in laughter and tears, and no one would forget about him soon. But rather than mourning our loss, we should fill the world with laughter and kindness in his memory, using the things he had taught us as entertainers using words.
Transcending Mediums is written by: Ailyn Koay. You can find more from Ailyn at her blog, Penny For My Thoughts.