Making it up as you go

I discovered something about writing this week as I was working on the play: You can make it up as you go along! Yes, it's true. I did lots of planning, and that has really paid off, but as I've been writing I've been adding bits and changing things. So it seems the process is about simultaneous planning and changing, planning and changing. It's really fascinating. It was good to plan. I learned all I could about the town of Melbourne, Australia, where the bulk of the action takes place. Did you know they have a harbor district there, where all of the swank hotels and nice galleries are? I had no idea. What a beautiful city, though. I would love to go there. Anyway, my point was I'm learning so much. Too much planning is not a bad thing, because you have to have the details of the characters' lives in your mind so they can speak about themselves when they need to. But you can also fill things in as you go along.

The most fun thing about writing a musical is sitting back once a scene is finished and deciding where the songs should go. So far I have three songs: an opening number, with Nicholas and a whole host of gallery patrons, a song in which Charles, Nicholas' boss, lectures him, and one about all the different ways Gregory could kill himself. It's similar to that scene in Cyrano where he rattles off all the different ways one could make fun of his own nose.

Through all this I've rediscovered my love of musical theater. I got a huge collection of Broadway soundtracks off of X-torrent the other day and I've been eating them up. I hate some of them, though. Andrew Lloyd Weber's musicals can blow me. I liked the movie version of Les Miserables, but the music for the live version is so cheesy. I can't stand it. Same with Phantom of the Opera. Pure shlock. However, all the old ones, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Showboat, Sweeney Todd, they're all classics. I have to say I didn't like Into The Woods as much as I thought I would. The melodies are pretty jumpy and flat. And after I listened to Hair I wanted to beat up everyone on the bus.

It's great to listen to all these musicals and get pointers. I've discovered that the best musicals are the ones in which I can tell what the story is just from the songs. If I can tell roughly who the characters are and what's happening by just the songs, it's pretty thrilling.

So, I'm sitting down now to get to work. Wish me luck.