Oh my, I haven’t really blogged much in April, have I? I’ve been busy. Remember the Script Frenzy challenge to write 100 pages of script in April? Despite taking four days off for Norwescon and catching a killer cold, I managed to complete a stage play.
It’s a first draft. Like all first drafts, it will require review and revision. But it’s done. At 79 pages.
It was an interesting writing experience. I wrote final scene first, because I knew how it had to end. Then I wrote the first scene, because certain things had to be established for the final scene to work. Then I wrote some stuff in the middle, in no particular order. Then I wrote the scene that came before the first scene and then the scene that came after the final scene.
A lot of writers start with outlines. Obviously, I’m not one of them. But I had created such a cluster that I had to impose order on it. So, rather than outline what I needed to write, I went back and outlined what I had already written (which, incidentally, told me what I still needed to write).
What I learned from the exercise was that my story had three distinct problems arising from the order of the scenes.
The first was sequence. Characters cannot act on information before they receive it and problems cannot be resolved before they occur. This was the most obvious problem.
A little more subtle was the issue of timing. In one case, I had a character told she could not return to work until she had solved a certain problem. At the start of the very next scene, she returned to work with a clever solution. It was in the right sequence, but it happened too fast. It just doesn’t seem like much of a problem when the audience only experiences five minutes of real time before it gets resolved.
And finally, there was the problem of flow – how one scene proceeds into the next. It’s easy to cut between scenes on the stage with a blackout or a curtain, but cutting from a pair of characters on one set to the same pair of characters on the same set may not flow as well as other transitions.
This is part of the fun of working in different formats. All of these lessons can apply to the construction of any type of story, but they were easy to see while I was writing for the stage.