Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When the "rewrite" takes all night. . .

People ask me how I do it - how I get the sentences tight, the cadence in rhythm and the plot to flow.

I tell them the truth.

I write the dang thing over and over again.

Between versions, I invite actors to my home, fill them with champagne, strawberry short-cake and divine little brie cracker thingies, covered in raspberry jam.

They read.  I listen.  And even if they're too blissed to give me hard feed-back, I hear the bad along with the good.

And I write the whole thing all over again.

My youngest daughter criticizes my obsessive commitment to rethink the entire script - each time.

I tell her I cannot change the motivations in Act I without altering the actions in Act III.  Makes total sense to me. 

When I wrote the first version of SWEET TRUTH, I had no idea the protagonist was obsessed with online dating.  All that became clear after six months of rewrites.  Gospel.

Now that I've see PAPER DADDY in production, I'm rewriting the entire play - changing the title to provide more flexibility in a rewrite - dropping the "abortion" language - and rethinking the motives of two characters. 

This, I think, is the way art moves forward.

Because PAPER DADDY has been produced, it stands in its own place.  The new version will, no doubt, emerge as a new play entire - new characters and new intentions.

Important - so important to be gentle with yourself in the process.  Every piece of art is an expression of history.  The rewrite moves the work down the road a piece, where perspectives and experience change and new events interrupt old patterns.

Never fight the rewrite.  Let it happen.  It was born to happen.  It will make your work more complex, detailed, beautiful.  And important.

Besides.  What else you got going?  That's what I thought.

Life, my dears, is very long.  Take the time you need.  Trust me.  There's plenty more where that comes from.

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