I’ll have another piece…

… of that humble pie.

If you saw me in person last week I probably bitched talked about my frustration with writing a detailed outline for the playwrights’ studio. I may have said some choice words about how it was a waste of time and how in the same amount of time I could have written a damned draft of the play. I mean I could say it all in bullet points, why waste time in prose when I could flesh it out with, I don’t know, a draft.

I may have dreamed of a new play that was just a bunch of colour saturated images ripe for the writing.

I may have boasted at my fearlessness in the face of the red pen, how I am happy to cut, cut, cut when needed.

OK. I did do all of that.

But it is a woman’s perogative to change her mind right?

So I’ve softened to the idea of the outline. I still haven’t been evangelised (yet) but now that the outline is pretty much done I can see the (possible) advantages of the thing.

First up – images and metaphor. Much easier to carry through and/or echo an image when it is written a paragraph or two previously rather than 10 pages of dialogue ago.

It is also much easier to see when I’ve set up something with no pay off:

An Englishman, an Irishman and Maoriman walk into a bar… rhubarb, rhubarb 20 odd pages later, What do you mean? Punchline what punchline? Was I even telling a joke?

And (fingers crossed) I think writing the actual script will take no time, because although I love the highs when a script just seems to be writing itself and you are just along for the ride those doldrums can be pretty hard to navigate. At least now I have a map.

What I was worried about was that the outline was taking the “heat” out of writing. I guess I forget those times when you’re writing a first draft and nothing is happening. You stare at the computer screen. Maybe the house gets a little cleaner. Maybe you just put the project away until you’re inspired again.

Ever the optimist I forget the hard times, just the bits when I go “Wheeeeeeee! This is fun!”

When I was a very young writer I used to hate to rewrite. In some deluded way I thought that plays/poetry/stories just happened. That they were fully formed when they hit the page.

Now I see rewriting as where the real writing happens; that work is better for it.

Is this a new stage of evolution in a writer? That perhaps I should put more stock in the story structuring process…

I hope the draft is easier to write. I hope (but don’t tell my husband) that I was wrong.

I may be getting ahead of myself, but I may even use it again. Maybe on that shiny idea that just won’t go away…

Imagine how many projects I can start if I short circuit my process!


Eternally hopeful.


Filed under Kiwiana Charlatan, Musings, On being a Writer, Playwrights' studio

3 responses to “I’ll have another piece…

  1. littlegemsession

    I’ve been reading “The Writer’s Journey” since you blogged about it. Isn’t this just what he says? Not wanting to rub your nose in it or nuffink… 😉
    Anyway, wow! I’ve found it really helpful as far as structure, synopsis and preparation goes. I think it will save you heartache in the long run.

  2. Whiti

    I totally agree, that is the rational thinking part of my brain does. The part that’s hooked on the rush of writing something when it pops into my head is still undecided.

    It will probably take another person to say the same thing to me in a slightly different way before it really hits home. A friend of mine has been literally telling me for years (7 years to be exact) that the emotion of the story, the heart, the reason I began writing the thing is the most important thing to the story. Then I spent a whole lot of money on a MA to learn the same thing, but it wasn’t until this year when Phil pointed out the same thing that it clicked.

    I’m a slow learner!!

  3. ed

    …but whiti wasn’t your issue with not just with the outline writing but with the outlining writing in such detail as to stifle the flow of the writing?… you seemed quite persuasive in your arguments the other week.

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