Getting to know you…

Today I feel like I’ve made good progress on my play despite the fact that I haven’t written a word of dialogue since I’ve been in Auckland.

Huh? How can there be progress if I haven’t actually written any dialogue (actually that should be monologue since it’s a solo show)? Because I have been writing a pretty in depth character breakdown . I know, for example, what my character was doing 10 years before the play takes place and how this has shaped the character in the play today.

Usually, either because I’m pressed for time or the idea feels “hot”, I just jump in and start writing. Hopefully by the end of the first draft (but probably the third draft if I’m honest) I kinda know my character. Sometimes this actually does work. Sometimes it means a lot of rewriting and culling of scenes/dialogue that I love but don’t fit the character or the story.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that story can come from character so instead of inventing plot points they seem to be coming naturally from the type of character she is and the decisions she makes.

Pretty important stuff so I’ve silenced the editor in my head that’s demanding pages/scenes because this is important and I am working. It has been really nice to take the time to do this. I can’t help but look back on work that I’ve done and think if I took the time to prepare properly… would I have done it? Probably not.  I think I’m the type of person who likes to discover these things. But it’s kind of like Colombus “discovering” America – people have been here well before me.

What I have found in working to get to know my character this intensely is that I have no appetite for real people. The Michael King writer’s centre has a room to hire so writers can have a space to work on their latest project. Although it has been nice to get to know other writers and interesting to know what they’re working on, yesterday when the latest visiting writer moved out I was incredibly happy to be on my own.  Being with my character is using up my sociability quota. I don’t have the mindspace to absorb a real person’s quirks anymore.

Well, this week anyway.

Today I also baked rewena from the bug I started here – wild yeast caught in my writer’s shed. So far the yeast is strong in this one (there is another)* and the loaf is a monster – pushing the lid up on my dutch oven a good two cms (or an inch if you’re imperically minded). No photos I’m afraid – the camera is on charge.

I’m timing each step so that the play will hopefully run in real time – for as long as it takes to bake a loaf. That seems to be around 55 – 60 mins. Although in my old oven it would have been 45 mins so maybe I’ll need a little wiggle room for the actor!

*Apologies to George Lucas. Actually he should apologise – those last three Star Wars and Indiana Jones 4? Stop ruining my childhood! And here ends the fan-boy rant.


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Filed under Michael King Writers Centre, On being a Writer

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