Monday, June 24, 2013

Shake up the Snowglobe

Sometimes when you're writing a play it all comes out and the characters and story lines that were in your head are flowing to the the page like a fish in water. And then sometimes the play just stops. The story will cease to flow and the characters seem to have no reason to be where they are or doing what they're doing. You just cannnot write anymore and you don't know why. This is what we call writer's block. So what are we supposed to do when that happens. You have to keep writing. You have to keep going or else the play will be dead on arrival. So what do you do?

A play is like a snowglobe. When you're writing it all of the ideas, characters, motivations, and dialogue is swimming around in your head. You just catch them as you go and there always seems to be enough to get you through the next scene.

But then everything settles down suddenly and clumps up. No new ideas or tidbits are flying. Everything is clumping down on the bottom. So what do you do? You have to shake it up. You have to get those little bits flying in the air again. You do this by changing perspective. Turn the play or the character's world upside down and soon things will start flowing again. Here are some ideas for shaking up your story.

  • Look at the story from the perspective of your antagonist. What is their motivation for doing what they do and how do they view the main character?
  • Kill the character that you think you need. How do the other character's respond? How does the story progress or digress?
  • Put two characters together that never would been seen with each other and get them talking.  How do they progress the story.
  • Skip ahead to the ending. A lot of times we get stuck thinking that the play has to be written from start to finish. But if you have a scene or an ending that you keep thinking about write it. Maybe when you have an ending in mind you can see what it takes to get you there.
  • Get your characters drunk.
  • Make them sing whatever they're thinking.
  • Put each and everyone of them through the confessional at church.
You get the idea. All you have to do is worry about turning the play upside down so that you look at it differently. All these ideas might sound funny but they're not supposed to be Pulitzer Prize winning. It just helps you get the draft going. And you're going to rewrite it all anyway right?

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