Tag Archives: composition

How Editing is Like Hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner

I’m in the midst of preparing menus for two parties. First, an orphan thanksgiving for local friends, and then traveling to a family dinner.

Have you noticed that despite the fact you you celebrate Thanksgiving every year, it’s never the same as last time? Sometimes there’s a little change, like adding a new side dish to the turkey feast; but sometimes there are massive changes.  Maybe you can’t stand turkey anymore and went for Chinese.  The core ideas were the same — family, feasting, gratitude — but you went about it a totally different way.  It’s a lot like re-writing and revising. 

You know the basics of what’s going to happen.  Thanksgiving has traditions and a theme, and your story has traditions and a theme.  The more experience you have planning the party [or re-working the manuscript], the more your skills and confidence will improve.  Change is necessary, and it’s up to you to say what stays and what goes.

Start small.  Tweaking your dialogue is like tweaking a recipe.  Adding a scene is like inviting a new group of people over.  Then move on to the big stuff.  If your manuscript is too long, think of it like cutting your guest list.  You love your writing, like you love your friends and family—but if your friends and family don’t mesh, one of them can’t come to the party.  Don’t be afraid to hurt feelings, or cut things you’re really proud of.  They can always get their own party later.

You owe it to your guests [readers] to make it the most fun, the most touching, and the most memorable party [story] you can.  Now buckle down and do it.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity…
— Amelia Earhart

TG

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Discovering Your Voice In Other People

mockup

Cast Interview: 10/14.
ACTUAL SHOW: 11/2.

Mark your calendar and bookmark

After writing short stories and novels for years and years, I’ve made the transition into audio. I’ve had the great fortune to have one of my shows produced by Sherri’s Playhouse and I have to say it’s been an amazing experience. When you finish a piece of writing, you send it off to readers for feedback, and the process can take months. With a play, you’ve got an army of people reading and working with the words immediately. You’ll know within moments whether or not the writing works, and you’ve got all these other people who know your story and know your characters who will help show you why or why not.

That is awesome.

Tonight at 7pm Pacific Standard Time, the cast of Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271 will join me to talk about the play, the process, and inner demons. I’m really excited to be able to chitchat about this kind of collaboration, and I’d like to give some background and context for tonight’s show.

Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271 burst forth in the middle of the night from a number of unrelated elements, the most of which was an argument over whether or not a necklace would be considered work-appropriate or not. This got me thinking about a number of larger issues surrounding dress code, not the least of which was Chimamanda Adichie’s assertion that hair is political. African braids wouldn’t be considered work-appropriate; nor would Native American braids or long hair on men. Who decided these rules? Are they fair? How can you be yourself, and work toward goals you’re truly passionate about, when our industrial-worker system is designed to stamp that out of you?

With all these petty injustices in mind, consider also: what would it be like if your inner voice was real and beyond your control… a separate entity, vying for power over your mind and your limbs ?

Enter Marron, the demon.

My star, Kara is locked in a constant battle with Marron over control of her life. As the writer and director my job is similar; but I have to say it has also been much more gratifying.

In TV, it’s all about the writer. In movies, it’s all about the director; but in theater (and radio plays definitely count as theater) it’s collaborative. This is an effort put forth by everyone. I’m in the unique position of being able to see all the pieces moving at once:

  • each actor’s individual concerns
  • how they interact with each other
  • the point/message/goal of each scene
  • working out the technical aspects

It has all been fun. It has all been challenging. I find myself constantly looking for ways to make the show better, to make the words clearer, and once everything’s in place, how to make it even cooler.

I guide and facilitate, and then get the hell out of the way.

Be sure to join me tonight for the live cast interview — we’ll be taking questions from the audience.  Tweet #UDI271 to @KatanaPen and spread the word!

Cast Interview: 10/14.
ACTUAL SHOW: 11/2.

Mark your calendar and bookmark

Until then…