Playwriting

Naplwrimo update

Today is day 24 of Naplwrimo, which is National Playwriting Month. The deal is simple – write every day for the month of November, check in at the website, and submit a play of at least 75 written pages on November 30th. I am working on a modern adaptation of sorts of The Gift of the Magi which I believe I’m simply going to call The Gift.

So. The good news is that I will have a finished play by November 30th. I can see this piece as a whole. I’m at 68 pages thus far and don’t see any difficulty in getting to 75 or more.

The bad news is that as of today, Act Two is pretty much in shambles. The pieces do not fit together. It was tough, tough, tough, just to get those words on the page and not think about the fact that I know they’re not the right words, and the setup is not the right, the journey of the main character isn’t right, and things are just not right. It took everything I had to stop thinking and keep writing. Any words, not just the right ones.

It’s magical unicorn syndrome. We all believe that when we put down words for the first time, they should come out perfect. A magical unicorn riding down a sparkly rainbow on to the page. Perfect and shiny and never needing a smidge of re-writes. Because that’s the writing process to a T, right? Everything perfect all the time? Everything perfect the first time?

That thinking is, pardon my French, ka-ka do-do. Just because I’m participating in a framework that says “you will write a full length play in 30 days” doesn’t mean that the rules of playwriting go out the window. And one of the rules of playwriting is that the first thing that goes onto the page will never be the last thing. It can be good. There will be sections that will indeed never change, that first instinct will always be right. But more often than not, the first draft is just the first of many. And the point of Naplwrimo is not to create a magical unicorn, it’s to write a play. There’s nothing in the rules that says that play can’t go through re-writes after those 30 days.

And frankly if I would just stop thinking about unicorns for a moment, I would realize that I’ve already won. A play will happen. I will have a finished play at the end of the month. And further, it’s a play that I know, even among the rubble, is going to be something I can move forward. Something that I can see on the stage. That’s huge.
It’s all this thinking that gets in the way…..

About the author

Lindsay Price

3 Comments

  • I saw the only remaining original fragment of a Shakespeare play in his own hand writing at the British Museum this week and even it has segments crossed out and rewritten. Kind of nice, actually.

  • Even Shakespeare! I didn’t even know there WAS a piece of his original work. How cool. We’re going to England next year and this just went on the todo list. Thanks Lois!

  • I don’t know where the fragment lives normally. They had a special Shakespeare exhibit on at the British Museum while I was there. But the folks at Shakespeare’s Globe might know.