Writing is Rewriting

Writing is Rewriting

After many attempts to edit one script, I find myself exhausted. The red pen of plot holes and mistakes was once my friend but now I look my script with one thought: too much has to change.

The details aren’t important to me. Not anymore. Great works of literature such as Catch-22 and Waiting for Godot don’t really explain the how. How the character can live all those different lives and versions or how two men found themselves at a tree. 1984 tries to convey the how but I skipped that. It’s actually dull. I preferred the characters. Watching them fall in love, how they react to the place, the thing, the event. I decided that’s what I wanted in my play.

I know the how and the world. It slowed me down, forcing words into characters to show how clever my world was. “You see this? It’s a nod to this.” “See this? It’s a parody of that.” I realised that I didn’t want to make a big statement. We’re all quite aware of how fucked everything is and what bad governments look like.

The bigger questions was why don’t these characters leave? In countless examples, it is the character’s themselves that imprison themselves, not physical walls. In my plays it’s because both characters are grieving differently. This whole thing reminds me of an exercise in a writing group…

Write a scene.

D: They’ll be coming soon.

M: You’ve said that before.

D: This time it’s different.

M: How?

D: I don’t know. The men look at me different, one scoffed at my command.

M: They might be… It could be…

D: But it’s not though. Someone’s seen something, someone’s said something.

M: Who? Who? You’ve been so careful.

D: Edward.

M: Don’t be stupid.

D: Edward.

M: You’re being paranoid. I told you not to. I told you to keep your head down-

D: Maggie.

M: No! You need to stop.

D: I’m not stopping.

M: Yes you are, you have a family.

D: I’m fighting for this family-

M: You’ve put this family in danger.

D: Every family. This is not the way things are meant to be.

M: I know. But this isn’t about how things were. It’s about survival.

D: Survival is insufficient.

M: Is your family insufficient?

D: No, but-

M: No buts! Just stop. Please. Stop. They might not, don’t give them any more reason to…

D: It’s too late.

[Knock at the door]

M: One more dinner.

D: Maggie.

M: That’s all I want, one more dinner. (shouts) You hear me? One more dinner! One more. Please.

[Door crashes open]

M: Please. One more.

Writing is rewriting. Do it again with only 10 lines.

D: They’ll be coming soon.

M: How?

D: Something’s different. I think Edward-

M: You need to stop.

D: I’m not-

M: You have a family. We need to survive.

D: Survival is insufficient.

M: Is your family insufficient?

D: Maggie.

[Door crashes open]

M: One more dinner, that’s all I want, one more dinner.

Now you have 10 words.

D: They know.

M: How?

D: Something’s different.

M: Please stop.

[crash]

M: One more dinner.

I’m making big changes and I’m using as little words as possible.