So here are my favorite ideas about how to "steal" a rough draft when you have a bad case of writer's block. Now all writers love the joy of writing and starting a play from scratch is the most fun part of being a writer. But sometimes when you're in a mental drought or a time crunch rough draft just means a hundred and twenty pages or so. So when you just need the stack of paper here's what you can do.
5 Ways to "Steal a Draft"
- Write someone else's story: I'm not talking about plagiarism or copyright infringement here. I'm talking about a great exercise given by the great Mac Wellman. If you find yourself in a bout of writer's block find a play you either like of hate and to right that play from memory. You'll find by the time you've finished that you've forgotten the specifics of the story and used the plot as a template to build your own story.
- Mashup Dialogue: We all know that every rough draft get's rewritten anyway so why don't you take two plays and mash up the dialogue. Take down one side and of a scene in one play and combine it with a side in another scene. Or if you want to follow the template of an obscure improv game take one side of dialogue and come up with your own written response to it. Yes you're going to have to rewrite it that it's all your own work but you were going to rewrite it anyway, right?
- Write your favorite movie backwards: Take your absolute favorite movie and flip the plot backwards. That means that your ending is the beginning and the beginning is the end. Again you're just using the plot as a template to help you with your draft. So feel free to take liberties as you go!
- Steal from the News: Take your favorite news story (or one that just irks you to no end and write that story. Challenge yourself to take the bad guy's side or take a perspective that you don't necessarily agree with.
- Backwards and forwards: This is one of my own creation. Using only three minute scenes mashup two movies in alternating scenes. One of your plotlines you're moving forwards. The other one you're writing backwards. When you're done you'll have one complete draft that's all your own.
The key concept is that your are STEALING these drafts. Borrowing a draft is plagiarism. Act like a dramatic chop shop and make all of these ideas you're own. My biggest tip is to make a simple outline and drop the source material as soon as you can. You're just making a rough draft here, not a parody or an adaptation. Stay tuned later and you may see me using these ideas in projects and putting them on the blog as examples.