domingo, setembro 29, 2019

Diálogo: A Arte da Ação Verbal

Robert McKee é uma das maiores autoridades do guionismo de Hollywood, sendo o seu livro “Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting” (1997) considerado uma espécie de bíblia para quem escreve para o meio audiovisual. “Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen” (2016) é assim além da sua primeira publicação em 20 anos, um verdadeiro sucessor de “Story”, capaz de aprofundar toda a componente da escrita de diálogo. Entretanto McKee passou todos estes anos envolvido nos seus famosos workshops, aquilo que confessa mais gostar de fazer porque segundo ele“Life is absurd. But there is one meaningful thing, one inarguable thing, and that is that there is suffering. Fine writing helps alleviate that suffering – and anything that puts meaning and beauty into the world in the form of story, helps people to live with more peace and purpose and balance, is deeply worthwhile.” 



É interessante ver como as reações ao livro se dividem entre acusações de academismo e falta dele. McKee é um brilhante analista de histórias, nos mais variados meios, o que faz com que não raras vezes se exceda e entre em processos de sistematização de ideias, conceitos e argumentos que não são muito úteis a quem escreve. Contudo, para académicos como eu, são autênticas pepitas, porque provêm de um olhar único, que funciona como um microscópio de aumento das teias narrativas e sociais plasmadas nas obras. O facto de McKee ser mais artesão que académico, dá-lhe um acesso à arte do fazer absolutamente invejável. Neste segundo livro McKee dedica-se a desconstruir a arte do diálogo nas suas mais variadas estruturas, sistemas e lógicas, usando exemplos amplos e variados para expor as suas teorizações, que vão desde o teatro à televisão, passando pelo cinema. Os casos apresentados, e desmontados, são brilhantemente dissecados, como se despisse os filmes de toda a sua envolvência plástica e nos apresentasse os nós da narrativa completamente nus, dando conta daquilo que considera mais importante no diálogo — o subtexto — ou “the double dimension of dialogue—the outer aspect of what is said versus the inner truth of what is thought and felt.” .

Simultaneamente McKee não deixa de tecer comentários e justificativas sobre o efeito plástico do medium, nomeadamente sobre as diferenças nas capacidades de cada um dos media, o que torna o livro imensamente relevante para todos aqueles que trabalham o âmbito do transmedia.
O trabalho de McKee acaba sendo bastante académico, ainda que metodologicamente siga uma via pouco comum, já que como revela, o método seguido é o de apresentar ideias às suas audiências de criadores, com quem vai depurando e filtrando até que condigam com um sentir da maior parte dos criativos. Na verdade, e tendo em conta tratar-se de arte, o método é profundamente académico, e se serve quem procura fórmulas, ou modelos, para chegar ao maior número de pessoas, acaba afastando aqueles que andam à procura de autenticidade ou da subversão do status quo.
O livro apresenta-se em 4 partes, sendo a primeira de domínio mais académico, no qual é exposto toda a sua teorização sobre a arte do diálogo, e diga-se, a parte que mais me interessou. Depois temos três partes dedicadas a conselhos sobre problemas nos diálogos, sobre o tratamento do diálogo em função dos personagens, e por fim a desconstrução de várias cenas no seu design de diálogo. Vou deixar aqui uma síntese da primeira parte, e aconselho vivamente a leitura de uma entrevista para a Creative Screenwriting na qual ele dá conta de algumas das ideias aqui discutidas:


1 – DEFINIÇÃO do DIÁLOGO, por McKee

Este ponto começa por ser desde logo inovador, não porque McKee olha para todos os media narrativos, mas porque McKee resolve estender totalmente a relevância do Diálogo, e ao fazê-lo eu não podia estar mais de acordo, uma vez que segue completamente o sentido da Pragmática da Comunicação.
“Tradition defines dialogue as talk between characters. I believe, however, that an all-encompassing, in-depth study of dialogue begins by stepping back to the widest possible view of storytelling. From that angle, the first thing I notice is that character talk runs along three distinctly different tracks: said to others, said to oneself, and said to the reader or audience.
“I place these three modes of talk under the term “dialogue” for two reasons: First, no matter when, where, and to whom a character speaks, the writer must personalize the role with a unique, character-specific voice worded in the text. Second, whether mental or vocal, whether thought inside the mind or said out into the world, all speech is an outward execution of an inner action. All talk responds to a need, engages a purpose, and performs an action. No matter how seemingly vague and airy a speech may be, no character ever talks to anyone, even to himself, for no reason, to do nothing. Therefore, beneath every line of character talk, the writer must create a desire, intent, and action. That action then becomes the verbal tactic we call dialogue.”
“To say something is to do something, and for that reason, I have expanded my redefinition of dialogue to name any and all words said by a character to herself, to others, or to the reader/audience as an action taken to satisfy a need or desire. In all three cases, when a character speaks, she acts verbally as opposed to physically”
Para explanar melhor esta definição, McKee apresenta uma diferença entre Dramatização e Narrativização de diálogo, entre o diálogo realizado dentro da cena (dramatizado) e aquele exterior à cena — o monologo ou a fala para o leitor/espectador — (narrativizado). Para se compreender esta distinção, McKee faz o que sabe melhor fazer, pega num pequeno diálogo, e dá-o a ler nas 3 formas: "said to oneself", "said to others", "said to the reader". Deixo apenas primeiros parágrafos do exercício.
1) “Dreams run like streams.” Hoary proverbial wisdom, I know you well. And in reality most of what one dreams is not worth a second thought—loose fragments of experience, often the silliest and most indifferent fragments of those things consciousness has judged unworthy of preservation but which, even so, go on living a shadow life of their own in the attics and box-rooms of the mind. But there are other dreams.”
2) “Dreams run like streams.” A proverb I know you’ve heard. Don’t believe it. Most of what we dream isn’t worth a second thought. These fragments of experience are the silly, indifferent things our consciousness judges unworthy. Even so, in the attic of your mind they go on living a shadow life. That’s unhealthy. But some dreams are useful. ”
3) “Glas and Markel sit in a café. As dusk turns to night, they sip after-dinner brandies.
GLAS: Do you know the proverb “Dreams run like streams”?
MARKEL: Yes, my grandmother always said that, but in reality, most dreams are just fragments of the day, not worth keeping.
GLAS: Worthless as they are, they live shadow lives in the attic of the mind.
MARKEL: In your mind, Doctor, not mine.
GLAS: But don’t you think dreams give us insights?”

O Dialogo e o Medium
Ainda na definição, McKee dedica uma boa parte à discussão do efeito do media no uso do tipo de diálogo,
“All dialogue, dramatized and narratized, performs in the grand symphony of story, but from stage to screen to page, its instruments and arrangements vary considerably. For that reason, a writer’s choice of medium greatly influences the composition of dialogue—its quantities and qualities. The theatre, for example, is primarily an auditory medium. It prompts audience members to listen more intently than they watch. As a result, the stage favors voice over image” [assim, cabe ao som transportar a maior parte do diálogo, ou informação, 80/20]. Cinema reverses that. Film is primarily a visual medium. It prompts the audience to watch more intently than it listens. For that reason, screenplays favor image over voice. [Cabe a imagem a maior parte do diálogo: 80/20]. The aesthetics of television float between the theatre and cinema. Teleplays tend to balance voice and image, inviting us to look and listen more or less equally. [Imagem/som: 50/50]. Prose is a mental medium. Whereas stories performed onstage and onscreen strike the audience’s ears and eyes directly, literature takes an indirect path through the reader’s mind.” [Por isso não existe regra, tanto pode ser dramatizado como narrativizado.]

2 – AS 3 FUNÇÕES DO DIÁLOGO

“Dialogue, dramatized and narratized, performs three essential functions: exposition, characterization, action.” 

2.1. Exposition 
“Is a term of art that names the fictional facts of setting, history, and character that readers and audiences need to absorb at some point so they can follow the story and involve themselves in its outcome. A writer can embed exposition in the telling in only one of two ways: description or dialogue.”
“Onstage and onscreen, directors and their designers interpret the writer’s descriptions into every expressive element that isn’t dialogue: settings, costumes, lighting, props, sound effects, and the like. Comic book artists and graphic novelists illustrate their stories as they tell them. Prose authors compose literary descriptions that project word-images into the reader’s imagination.”
A exposição é ainda responsável por vários parâmetros da construção narrativa, vitais para a construção de cenas que garantam o total envolvimento do espectador/leitor: “pacing and timing”; “showing versus telling”; “narrative drive”; “exposition as ammunition”; “revelations”; “direct telling”; “forced exposition”. Destes todos, deixo uma das mais relevantes para compreender o que está a acontecer no processo de contar uma história:
“Narrative drive is a side effect of the mind’s engagement with story. Change and revelations incite the story-goer to wonder, “What’s going to happen next? What’s going to happen after that? How will this turn out?” As pieces of exposition slip out of dialogue and into the background awareness of the reader or audience member, her curiosity reaches ahead with both hands to grab fistfuls of the future to pull her through the telling. She learns what she needs to know when she needs to know it, but she’s never consciously aware of being told anything, because what she learns compels her to look ahead.”
2.2. Characterization
“The second function of dialogue is the creation and expression of a distinctive characterization for each character in the cast. Human nature can be usefully divided into two grand aspects: appearance (who the person seems to be) versus reality (who the person actually is).”

Deste modo o desenvolvimento de personagens obriga-nos a criar duas facetas: o verdadeiro personagem, e a sua caracterização. A primeira diz respeito aos momentos de tensão e escolha, momentos no qual percebemos que tipo de pessoa é, os valores que se levantam e falam por si, a sua dignidade ou ausência dela. Já para a caracterização McKee apresenta três parâmetros:
“1) To intrigue. The reader/audience knows that a character’s appearance is not her reality, that her characterization is a persona, a mask of personality suspended between the world and the true character behind it (..) Having hooked the reader/audience’s curiosity, the story becomes a series of surprising revelations that answer these questions.”
“2) To convince. A well-imagined, well-designed characterization assembles capacities (mental, physical) and behaviors (emotional, verbal) that encourage the reader/audience to believe in a fictional character as if she were factual.”
“3) To individualize. A well-imagined, well-researched characterization creates a unique combination of biology, upbringing, physicality, mentality, emotionality, education, experience, attitudes, values, tastes, and every possible nuance of cultural influence that has given the character her individuality (..) And the most important trait of all: talk. She speaks like no one we have ever met before.”
2.3. Action 
“Dialogue’s third essential function is to equip characters with the means for action. Stories contain three kinds of action: mental, physical, and verbal. (..) Mental Action: Words and images compose thoughts, but a thought does not become a mental action until it causes change within a character. (..)Physical Action: Physical action comes in two fundamental kinds: gestures and tasks. (..)Verbal Action: As novelist Elizabeth Bowen put it, “Dialogue is what characters do to each other.” (..) Therefore, before writing a line, ask these questions: What does my character want out of this situation? At this precise moment, what action would he take in an effort to reach that desire? What exact words would he use to carry out that action?”


3 – EXPRESSIVIDADE

O terceiro ponto do método de McKee apresenta-se na desconstrução da expressividade, que McKee faz em três frentes diferentes: conteúdo, forma e técnica.

3.1 Conteúdo
“As you compose dialogue, I think it’s useful to imagine character design as three concentric spheres, one inside the other—a self within a self within a self. This three-tiered complex fills dialogue with content of thought and feeling while shaping expression in gesture and word. The innermost sphere churns with the unsayable; the middle sphere restrains the unsaid; the outer sphere releases the said.”
Aqui entramos pelos reinos da interpretação narrativa adentro, com McKee a levar consigo todas as ferramentas da pragmática e semiótica para ajudar no suporte à construção por via da desconstrução e interpretação que cada leitor faz do que vai enfrentando e construindo mentalmente.

The Said: “The surface level of things said supports the more or less solid meanings that words, spoken or written, directly express with both denotations and connotations.
The Unsaid: “A second sphere, the unsaid, revolves within a character. From this inner space the self gazes out at the world. As thoughts and feelings form at this level, the self deliberately withholds them.”
The Unsayable: “Deepest yet, concealed beneath the unsaid, the sphere of the unsayable roils with subconscious drives and needs that incite a character’s choices and actions.”

Isto permite McKee chegar à essência do que tem para dizer e definer:

Text and Subtext
“Text means the surface of a work of art and its execution in its medium: paint on canvas, chords from a piano, steps by a dancer. In the art of story, text names the words on the page of a novel, or the outer life of character behavior in performance—what the reader imagines, what an audience sees and hears. In the creation of dialogue, text becomes the said, the words the characters actually speak.
Subtext names the inner substance of a work of art—the meanings and feelings that flow below the surface. In life, people “speak” to each other, as it were, from beneath their words. A silent language flows below conscious awareness. In story, subtextual levels enclose the hidden life of characters’ thoughts and feelings, desires and actions, both conscious and subconscious—the unsaid and unsayable.”
3.2 Forma
“The qualities and quantities of dialogue vary with the levels of conflict used in the storytelling (..) Conflict disrupts our lives from any one of four levels: the physical (time, space, and everything in it), the social (institutions and the individuals in them), the personal (relationships of intimacy—friends, family, lovers), and the private (conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings). The difference between a complicated story and a complex story, between a story with minimum dialogue versus maximum dialogue, hinges on the layers of conflict the writer chooses to dramatize.”

3.2 Technique
“Figurative devices range from metaphor, simile, synecdoche, and metonymy to alliteration, assonance, oxymoron, personification, and beyond. In fact, the list of all linguistic tropes and ploys numbers in the hundreds. These turns of phrase not only enrich what’s said, but also send connotations of meaning resonating into the subtexts of the unsaid and unsayable as well.”
Neste ponto McKee aprofunda questões de paralinguagem, de design de informação — suspense, cumulativo, balanceado — economia (dizer o máximo com o mínimo), pausa e a necessidade do silencio

O livro continua com todo um trabalho de desconstrução e depuração de técnicas — com cenas de "The Sopranos", "The Great Gatsby", "Lost in Translation" ou ainda "O Museu da Inocência" de Pamuk—, através do que McKee partilha uma imensidade de conhecimento sobre a arte do diálogo mas também sobre a arte da narrativa e sua relevância para o ser humano. Para muitos o livro soará formulaico, para mim soa metódico, imensamente sistematizado algo que não é comum nas artes. Diria que McKee, ao usar esta abordagem também já no "Story" foi um dos grandes percursores daquilo que hoje qualificamos como Narrative Design.

Fica uma nota final, a versão audiobook é narrada pelo próprio McKee, o que adiciona toda uma outra camada de interesse à leitura via audio.

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