CHARACTERS 2: That Haunting Feeling

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how my characters stay with me long after their scripts are dust in the wind. Sometimes it leads to a weird sensation when moments tied inextricably to music come rushing back when a certain song plays.

An in-progress pilot I’ve had in the drawer for a couple years now, a darker-edged approach to Glee, kicks off with a vivid musical sequence setting up the themes and relationships of the characters. It’s a moment of joy right before a horrible tragedy, and every time I hear the song attached to the scene, I can’t help but be pulled right back into the scene. Watching the characters perform, their hearts on their sleeve, not understanding what’s coming. There’s a haunting sadness to it.

Another song is attached to a scene from a spec I never wrote, and even though the scene never actually occurred in the show, the song still hits me with a wave of feeling from the scene I envisioned for that scene. For the vulnerabilities of the characters involved, the heartbreak of having to sacrifice your relationship with someone you love for your own good. I can see it as vivid as ever. And this is a scene that is essentially unwritten fanfiction. And yet. The feelings remain, striking me more than most beats in the show itself.

Sometimes I wonder if other people have the same visceral connection and sense memory of scenes they’ve conceptualised. Whether they can see their scenes, their characters, so vividly. Feel for them so strongly. I expect there are plenty of writers who do, and lots of others who don’t. It feels strange, though. Like they’re fully realised people that I know, like these are memories and not constructed scenes.

I don’t quite understand it, but I love it. It’s an amazing feeling, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.


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