Sometimes, I am slowed down in my play writing because I don’t want to let go of alternate scenarios that cannot coexist in a single play.
Since I usually start from character and place and never use an outline, my early thoughts and drafts go through a wide range of what-ifs and I find myself resisting doing actual scene work because I want these characters to be able to do this AND that rather than this OR that.
Eventually, though, I accept that these paper people become more human when I accept that they can only live, like us, second to second, minute to minute, and day to day, eventually forging one path through life.
That’s when I start to seal off those alternate routes in an effort to cover up any evidence that those dead-end tunnels once existed.
But I’m not there yet. For now, Donna and her daughter Connie and Mark and his brother Joey are living lives in multiple universes at the same time. Eventually, they’ll tell me the story–the one story–that they want written about them.
How true. It can be frustrating to allow the characters to tell their own stories – to get out of their way. The so-called Writer is merely a scribe. We are not the gods of our characters’ universe; we are the stenographers.