… 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!