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WAM: Writing a Musical
BELL WORK #11:
You have 90 seconds to write as many musicals you can think of. GO!
Create a short, 5-bullet point summary of this musical
There are basic ingredients but no single recipe. Your taste is unique.
“A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter.” –E.B. White
Writing is rewriting. You’re adding and subtracting ingredients until it’s ready to serve.
“Wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”
Find the form. “Everything is more important than anything”
Learn by copying. Study the classics, then forget them and find your voice
Write “hot.” Know where you’re going, but take advantage of the side roads.
You are what you eat. You only know what you know, so be curious
Be Idealistic.- aim for perfection!
Ingredients of a Musical
The Script (Book, Libretto): the words not only for what’s said but also for what ’s done, including the dances, as in Oklahoma! or 42nd Street. What is done (stage directions) and what remains unsaid (subtext) often reveal more than what is said.
“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie”
– Stephen King
The Score: the music is not only for singing and dancing but also for setting the story’s time, and place (i.e. 1860s Siam in The King and I) as well as its tone and pace (i.e. positive & fast-paced in RENT).
“There are only three principles … to be written in stone- Content Dictates Form, Less Is More, God is in the Details- all in the service of Clarity, without which noting else matters.”
Your recipe, how you organize ingredients in your story, is most important to figure out.
Anything you can Do Annie Get Your Gun
Fugue for Tinhorns Guys & Dolls
And I am Telling you Dreamgirls
In a group of 3, discuss the similarities and differences among musicals. Be sure to focus on the different types of plot lines, music, and staging. Which musicals appeal to you & why?
Finding the Right Idea
First, make sure your story needs music. People sing when they’re too emotional to talk, and people dance when they’re too emotional to sing. Does your story have strong emotions?
If it does, then ask yourself “What’s the story about? What story is it?”
Create a one-sentence summary of your story’s dramatic center: who the main character is, what he wants and what stands in his way.
Create a short tagline about your story’s emotional center (i.e. “There’s no place like home”). Keep both of these clearly in mind as you write your musical.
With a partner, share your ideas
As a pair, answer the following questions
Which idea grabs your attention or sparks your interest?
Which idea sounds likely to have a proper beginning, middle, and end to its plot?
Which idea sounds the most theatrical and able to be played on a stage?
Brainstorm with your partner if you need more ideas.
Beginning your outline: on your own
Choose an idea and run with it!
Create a brief outline of the events that might happen in the story
Whose story is being told?
Create a time, place & setting.
Create a tagline (i.e. “there’s no place like home”)
Please finish this for next time!
Day 1, Lesson 1 & 2
Day 1, Lesson 1 & 2