Playwriting

The First Draft Process – Two

Wednesday – 0 hours

A shot day. Most of the day was filled with company business and then when done with that I was preparing (fretting) about the 24 hour playwriting competition. And because of the competition, tomorrow is shot too.

I did decide that I wanted Franklin to emulate Lavater in the beginning – to the point where he perhaps is trying to copy a speech of Lavater’s. If the main conflict is going to be between them at the end, then they certainly need to have a different kind of bond at the beginning.

Wednesday amended – 4 hours – 15 pages of dialogue!!
Thursday – 8 hours – 26 typed pages!

What a difference a couple of hours make. The 24-playwriting contest started at 7pm on Wednesday. I was hoping that I was going to be able to write something that would fit into this project but I couldn’t count on it. One of the rules of the contest is that you have to incorporate 4 objects or ideas into your play. It’s important to let the objects guide the play rather than have too much of a pre-conceived notion because you spend all your time trying to ratchet the play instead of letting it form organically. The four objects were:

An ice cream truck.
A guilt trip.
The quote “What do you intend to do with my shoes.”?
An unusual phobia.

At first i thought – yuck. Those aren’t going to fit at all, and I didn’t have any flash of an idea and I thought I was sunk. Five minutes later though the cogs were turning and I thought….maybe I could put Franklin and Cara in a park (thinking about the ice cream truck) and just use this an exercise. Just get to know the two characters. And then a few minutes further, well what if Cara has the unusual phobia and it has to do with aquariums? And since I want Franklin to break the tank glass at the end of the play, what if he threw a shoe at it? And after that I was off. I wrote for four hours straight, longhand. It was a great feeling. This play (the larger one) has been one of vivid ideas but fits and starts in terms of writing. It’s been very slow and hard coming, which is sometimes the case. It was wonderful to have everything flow. Today I typed it all in, went through the full draft (without obsessing over the first moments as I am so want to do – that’s what’s so great about the time limit) did more longhand and was able to print out a second draft before the deadline was up.

What I’ve written for the contest is going to start the second act. I’ve decided that Cara will appear in the first act, but won’t speak at all. Also, the name of Franklin’s disorder won’t be spoken until the second act. A very liberating experience! And I’m going to take tomorrow off with no guilt whatsoever.

Monday – typing day, more research notes, 2 pages of dialogue

Since I had a good start with the 24 contest, I took the rest of my handwritten notes and put them into the file. It was a good way to see where I was with the piece. By the end, I wasn’t exactly happy with where I was. A bit disappointing after the euphoric feeling of last Thursday. The easiest thing to do when you’re writing is self-censor. It’s very easy just to stop writing because it doesn’t seem to be going well and it’s trap I have to watch out for all the time. Having said that, I may start re-jigging my plan of where I’m going to be at the end of the month. This play just does not want to come out. I know it’s there, it’s just out of reach.

So, when things are not moving forward, you step back. Always step somewhere – if you’re stuck with writing never stay in the stuck place. Writing around the play will alway lead you back inwards at some point. I did some more research on the brain today because I’m not happy with the science part of the play. And in the process came up with a promising monologue from Franklin about how much he admires what the brain does and how much he hates it. This I think is going to go somewhere and I’m going to continue working on it tomorrow. I also came up with a very interesting image of Franklin taking Polaroids that never develop. I’m going to turn that into something. We’ll see.

About the author

Lindsay Price