Thinking a play to death


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Thread: Thinking a play to death

  1. #1

    Thinking a play to death

    Have you guys been through this? You have a fun and compelling idea for a play and so you write some scenes full of fun and vibrancy. You can see these scenes being performed to an audience's delight, and you can see them published -- until everything comes to a screeching halt. Either you can't write another word or you make yourself write, but everything comes out as meandering mush. You try freewriting; you try outlining; if you're like me you even try writing after deep mediation, but every bit of it is futile.

    Today I was doing some computer housecleaning, that is, I was going over old files and deciding what to keep and what to zap. I came across a folder of an unfinished play that halted as I've described above. With it I had tried everything I describe above, but the play remains half written. In that folder there were 116 files if you include all my brainstorming and outlining. A hundred and sixteen files! This play hasn't remained unfinished for lack of effort. Instead, I feel like I've thought the play to death. It's lost its freshness and vibrancy and has become a fruitless chore.

    I've done the exercises described in playwriting books. I've done the scenarios, the character profiling, and the freewriting. If I'm being perfectly honest, character profiling has never really helped me. You fill out a detailed page about the person including her birth date, her biggest disappointment, her greatest success, love interests, brand of toothpaste, etc. I usually feel bored by these exercises. I feel like, "Okay, he uses Colgate and drives a Ford Taurus, so #$%^ing what?"

    Outlining and scenario writing have sometimes worked for me. Other times it feels like busy work. Same deal with meditation. Sometimes my freewriting after meditation has yielded the information I need to get the play moving; other times it hasn't. Sometimes it's like this: "Oh! Of course! She has to choose between her mate and granddaughter." Sometimes there's that one little spark that ignites you and makes the outlining and character exploration fruitful.

    Other times I've meditated into such a blissful state that I think the Dalai Lama is going to come knocking on my door asking me to join his monks in Tibet, but still no answer comes. I don't want to become a Buddhist Monk in Tibet. I promise! I just want to finish writing a play that shows such potential.

    Does this make sense? There's some kind of special light that turns on at its own whim. Once you have it, you know finishing the play will definitely happen as long as you do the work. If you don't have it, your hard work only creates 116 files of mush. I know my question will sound esoteric, but is there some way to make that light turn on when you need it?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_ZC
    Have you guys been through this? You have a fun and compelling idea for a play and so you write some scenes full of fun and vibrancy. You can see these scenes being performed to an audience's delight, and you can see them published -- until everything comes to a screeching halt...
    Not exactly, but what started out as clear and wonderful in my head, i'm now having trouble to recapture, and really, I should think about my characters and action on a stage, as this is something I hardly ever do. I don't think about how other people will receive what i'm writing, i'm hard to please in myself, so if can I do that, have it stamped performable and proficiently written by an expert, and have people with a taste I repect give it the nod, then this will be a pass for my efforts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_ZC
    ... if you're like me you even try writing after deep mediation, ...
    Very much unlike you, more likely i'm sleep deprived, or in a fantasy land all my own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_ZC
    If I'm being perfectly honest, character profiling has never really helped me. You fill out a detailed page about the person including her birth date, her biggest disappointment, her greatest success, love interests, brand of toothpaste, etc. I usually feel bored by these exercises. I feel like, "Okay, he uses Colgate and drives a Ford Taurus, so #$%^ing what?"
    Why take the fun out of it? Maybe you should leave this stage out?

    For me, there are times when I feel more creative, so get down to the business of writing out dialogue, ideas, or whatever; and when those stagnant times come, I check more initently what i've done in terms of structure, syntax and so on. Spend time doing what you're in the mood for.

    If you could ever remember what got you excited initially, back when your idea was uncluttered (though I admit, myself, to the difficulty in this) w/ thoughts of profiling or whatever else... Fashion your play in a way that seems sincere to you, and then do a rehaul w/ all the practical considerations. It sounds to me you've done a lot, and to start all over may be too drastic a move.

  3. #3

    My writing

    I don't expect you will be in writing mode all of the time. Just continue to add things, over a long period of time. To write great stuff, time investment is needed.

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