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Monday, March 07, 2005

Playwriting: Harder Than You'd Think

I finished my one-act play this weekend -- the second draft, at least. It's short, it's fun, it's a bit inconclusive, it needs to be rewritten by Thursday. Das Roomie read it and declared it to be play-like, but as she's largely ignorant of the format I've asked someone who actually knows something about plays to read it. Hopefully, he'll agree about its play-like status. Then all I have to worry about is the characters, dialogue, and story.

Playwriting is an incredibly different way of using your writing brain. I quite enjoy it, but man it kicked my ass for a while. Aaron Sorkin's TV writing is a favorite of mine, and he has a strong theater influence, but the simple fact is that when you have two people in a room and have nothing but their interactions to drive the story forward, it becomes incredibly intense. Every line has to be weighed in terms of the scene and the moment; the balance of power, who wants what, why they want it... You can't escape such tough questions in play format, can't bow out with a smash cut. It was a really great challenge. I wrote and rewrote pages over and over again, cut pages of dialogue and then reedited and reinserted them and then ended up throwing it all away. It was hardcore, and I felt great after doing it. A real workout.

I'm in a weird writing lull right now, though -- all revising and retreading old ideas rather than developing new ones. I'm getting notes on things tonight and tomorrow; I have plenty to work on. But I'm starting to think eagerly about starting something new. A short story, the second Hearttaker story, my next Bookslut column.

Not that I have a lot of time. But it's still nice to think about. The next new things. Words unwritten.

I'm gonna scan through the screenplay that needs a third draft now. No rest for the weary.

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