Writing Report September 19, 2017
As I mentioned elsewhere, I recently wrote a one act grand guignol style play (4,700 words) in a single afternoon.
Let me clarify that:
I typed up the play in a single afternoon, but it had been percolating for three or four days.
Here’s how this writer’s mind works:
While looking up something entirely different, I came across a reference to Le Grand Guignol, the notorious Parisian theater of blood and horror.
I’d known about Le Grand Guignol since…well…childhood actually (thank you, Forry Ackerman!) and had seen posters and pictures and brief synopsis from a few of its productions but had never read any of the full scripts (many but far from all were based on Poe stories; in flavor they appear to be similar to the classic EC horror comics with a decidedly French accent).
So, curiosity triggered by the stray reference I’d stumbled across, I did a quick Google search…
…and turned up bupkis. The theater, it seems, is best remembered for style rather than substance.
But my search did turn up a couple of Le Grand Guignol posers I hadn’t seen before, one showing three clowns peering through a window at a fourth clown stretched out…dead? Drunk? Senseless?
No matter, the image stuck with me. What could that story be? I wondered…
…and immediately began crafting one of my own.
Okay, so first night I got the basic idea:
Three clowns plan to rob a fourth clown who’s in a drunken stupor. This is Le Grand Guignol, can’t be mere robbery, must be murder.
Well, that implies a personal motive, much more than simple greed, and that would suggest one of the other three clowns is the intended victim’s wife, which in turn means the clown to be robbed must be a pretty crappy human being…
Okay, it was late at night, I didn’t feel like writing any details down, tuck it away until the next day.
But the next day and the day after I kept getting sidetracked by other things, both around the house and with other projects I’m working on.
So it wasn’t until Friday that I actually had a chance to put anything down on paper (and then merely a description of the play’s setting). Ideas kept bubbling up, but I couldn’t find time to write any of them down.
One thing I did do, however, was to try to work out the mechanics of the story. I knew how it must end, so it was merely a matter of reverse engineering. In order for the tragi-farce to play out fully the three thieves needed to turn against one another, the trio (A+B+C) becoming three overlapping couples trying to double cross the third partner in crime (A+B > C / A+C > B / B+C > A).
I spent Saturday trying to figure out the plot mechanics in my head, coming up with great little bits I filed away, but still not committing anything to paper or pixel, still not satisfied with the story.
Something was lacking.
So I thought,
Why not add
In this case, complications in the form of two other circus performers who are independently seeking to rob the drunken clown for reasons of their own.
That proved unworkable almost immediately. Too many crooks spoiling the broth, especially since one of the other performers would be a magician and the clowns wouldn’t want him involved in the robbery for fear he’d palm much of the loot.
But the fourth performer, she could stay, a rival to the victim’s wife.
Well, that certainly opened up fertile new territory, and so Sunday, after clearing my decks of some household duties, I sat down and start writing. (Finally!)
I was surprised at how much work my subconscious had done over the previous four days. While writing, I’d find myself adding details to the location, or particular lines of dialog to characters, with no clear idea of what I would do with them or what they meant…
…but as I got closer and closer to the climax, I saw I was laying track for my conclusion, not just laying track for the ending I planned, but building on it in new and startling ways.
I’m still not completely finished with it -- still some character names to finalize, some dialog to polish -- but I’m at least 95% done.
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Over the next few days / weeks / months I’m going to be going through and deleting or reposting a number of my older posts.
The deletions will be time oriented stuff such as convention announcements, comments on ongoing events, etc.
The reposts will be things I had done with the old blog format in mind, the one with a dark charcoal grey background and using Wordpress, which enable me to experiment with various color and hidden text effects, as well as load up my posts with lots of graphics.
The new Squarespace software doesn’t allow for color text, and while I can imbed illos in the text, I like the look of one big graphic above text so I’m opting to stick with that.
© Buzz Dixon