A down period of productivity
So I haven’t done a whole lot on the play as of late. Well, I have and I haven’t. A couple of weeks ago I went through and rewrote Act I, but I did not really rewrite so much as reword. You see, after having lived with Act I for six months or more, several lines which once were witty and fresh have become stale, cumbersome, annoying, and/or ineffective. So I went through and reworded several lines, probably a majority of the lines, sometimes just changing or deleting or adding one word, other times completely rewording the line.
In other instances, especially when a character has a monologue of sorts, I’ve generally cut phrases and sentences. I have a tendency to be wordy in first drafts, in order to be crystal clear. Now I am in a mode where I try to cut as much as I can before the meaning of the line starts to get too muddy. I figure that since I am going to be in rehearsal with the actors, any lines that do not have obvious meanings on the page will still be “safe” because I could just give the actors the “answer.” Though, I will only do that as a last resort, if the actors ask.
An unexpected obstacle or setback is that I have lost the hard copy of the play that I had when we had the read-through back in May. This is not too terrible because it’s not like I completely rewrote the play during the reading, but it did help a little because I circled lines that were awkward, and starred lines that got laughs, and wrote little notes. Hopefully I’ll find that soon, but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world.
The next step is the dreaded second act, which I hope will resolve itself in my mind soon. Right now Act II fails in many respects, and doesn’t follow through with many of the “promises” that Act I makes. Not that Act II is a total mess and needs to be rewritten from scratch—in fact I’d say most of it is usable—but the problem is that is sometimes runs out of dramatic fuel, or moves at an uneven pace, and doesn’t reach the extreme high-tension that it needs to. Most importantly, some of the characters’ arcs aren’t really resolved at all, or are resolved in a quick the-author-is-running-out-of-time way.
I’ve put off rewriting because of other writing projects I’ve had, the biggest of which was writing a one-act murder mystery, but that’s done, so now I have no excuse to delay it any longer (except, perhaps, that I have no answers to the questions that remain). I will feel much better going into rehearsal if I know that I’ve got a solid, excellent second half written.
Time to gear up for some serious thinking and rewriting.
This is a synopsis of Alien Invader
So it might be beneficial for all involved if I gave a brief description of Alien Invader.
The story concerns four adopted siblings:
Grant White, 29, a straight-laced guy content with mediocrity.
Sophia White, 26, high-strung, loud, opinionated, has money problems.
Elliot White, 23, laid-back, obsessed with video games, terrible at school.
Danielle White, 20, introspective, thoughtful, has aphasia from a stroke.
A year and a half before the beginning of the play, Danielle suffered a stroke, which has since left her with expressive aphasia, which means she is fully functional in all ways except her abilities to read, write, and speak, which she is slowly recovering. Six months later, Thomas and Mabel White, their parents, died in a skiing accident in West Virginia. Grant moved into their house with Elliot and Danielle, who had already been living there.
At the beginning of the play, Sophia’s apartment has burned down, and her only place to turn is her siblings. Her arrival causes much friction, especially with Grant, who is always on her case about her spending habits. Also, we learn that Elliot has failed college for the eighth time, and does not plan to re-enroll. Throughout the play, we also come to learn that Grant has lost his job and Danielle is searching for her biological mother.
Two major developments occur soon thereafter, which forever change the course of everyone’s life. First, Sophia decides that they should sell the house, which Grant is opposed to. Second, Elliot digs out of the closet an old copy of Alien Invader, The Worst Video Game Ever Made [based on the actual ET video game for Atari]. One night, as Elliot is playing the game, it speaks to him and tells him to go on a journey to the desert in New Mexico where millions of copies of Alien Invader are buried [again, based on what really happened to the actual ET video game], where he will find himself.
From there, stuff gets worse, and eventually all gets sorted out. It’s more character driven than plot driven, so explaining it from there might be pointless. Or maybe I’m just bad at summarizing my work?
There’s still a lot of work to be done (for instance, the subplot involving Danielle’s search for her mother has not even been written yet), but this is the basic framework. I plan to start rewrites at the end of this month, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m hoping that by the time we start rehearsals the play will be very polished and punched up: the highs higher, the lows lower, the jokes funnier, and the…other stuff b…better… Imagine the play being a black and white photo—right now I’ve taken the picture, and I’ve brought the negative into the darkroom, and now I’m cranking up the contrast on the enlarger. What? That analogy doesn’t really work, does it?