Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Conflict Resolution...

The thing I love about writing - and this probably applies to anything you love to do, such as acting, or painting, or sex - is that I'm constantly learning my craft. Things get better and I'm easily impressed, so...

But I figure this would be a good time to lay down my most recent lesson in the art of playwriting: Conflicts and How NOT to Create Them.

I finished Act One of the new play this weekend. In it, the Conflicts are obvious and right up front. I think that's the best way to go. Look at Shakespeare - I'm not drawing any comparison here! I'm just saying! - his conflicts were right up front: Romeo and Juliet couldn't be together. Hamlet had to avenge his father. Cesar had the whole "stabbing" thing.

My plays are not on such a scale. I write about typical, common, average... geez, boring people... In the new play, the conflicts are: an inability to conceive and insecurity. Nobody's left guessing after the first act what's going on, just how they're going to get out of this mess.

So, now that that's clear, let's look at my last play. In Whatever Happened To Me, the conflict between the main characters was clear: a couple struggles through an agonizing divorce when a younger version of the man comes to steal the woman away. But it's never been my favorite play and I'll tell you why. The relationship between the father and the son is forced. It's uncomfortable. It's wrong. You know why? Because you have no idea what the conflict is until the end of the play. The conflict isn't resolved; it's just illuminated! And the illumination is a copout because the conflict between the father and the son has nothing to do with the ultimate illumination (turns out the mother died of cancer, blah, blah, blah); the conflict is the conflict! Sometimes, fathers and sons can't stand each other. I know! So, trying to find an excuse for the conflict is amateurish and forced.

That's one of the great things about learning the craft. Now, I can go back and fix that. I can remove the stupid excuses and deal with the conflict itself.

And maybe, end up with a play I like.

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