I’m an artist through and through. I like arting. I art all the time.
While I am aspiring to be a professional author, and working towards improving my writing and storytelling skills with every word I put down on the page, there are plenty of other modes of art that I participate in: sewing, designing, painting, drawing, and songwriting, specifically writing musicals with my husband.
Writing musicals has it’s similarities with writing novels, but the differences increase the more I think about it.
Character creation and development is the most similar. Just like in a novel, the characters in a musical or play need to be well developed and complex. Otherwise, the audience will just see a bunch of bland characters and the take away from the show won’t be as much impact. After all, if you don’t care about the characters and can’t relate to them in some way, it stops at being entertaining, and for us, writing musicals always goes beyond the spectacle.
Outlining is always very similar, but slimmed greatly in comparison to novels. It requires the writer(s) to really hone in on the important scenes in the story, the ones that communicate what is happening the best, and never wasting any time. After all, most people aren’t looking to go to a six hour play. Most people.
Yesterday, my husband, Jeremy, and I were blessed to spend four hours with some of the most talented youth in our community for the first day of workshopping our original musical, “Scarlet”. It was a whirlwind adventure and a wonderful time together and we learned SO much!
Besides the fact that when you have twenty people reading lyrics, typos are found quickly, it has already made the show better. Seeing things we had written sung out loud and acted on stage was incredible. Plus, it really gave us some insight on the sound of the show.
One actor in particular, our friend Cameron playing Friar Tuck, exploded our view of the show. He bought a fresh perspective to the character very quickly, and his pacing and intentionality with his lines gave us lots of ideas to make the character more than just “the priest character”.
It was also my first jab at directing, and I was so glad that a good friend and amazing director there to help me get on my feet. Of course, we had already planned out most of the blocking like football plays on our awesome whiteboard, but stick figures are much different than teenagers. Looking back, I see things that I could have paid more attention to or nit-picked about, but this was a big-picture and get-on-our-feet kind of day.
On the flip side of writing fiction, my husband and I have also taken up writing musical together this past year! He has a worship songwriting degree, with a history in classical composition, and I, as you may know, write novels. So together, we seemed the perfect fit.
This morning, we had the first read-through for our first completed musical: Scarlet, The Outlaws of Nottingham. With 96 pages and 20 original songs, it took us a year to write, trying to figure out all the twists and turns of writing a musical that differ from writing regular music or a novel. Formatting was quite the ordeal.
But the read-through was quite the success with so much helpful feedback to make the musical better, as well as plenty of encouragement that it wasn’t a failure of show (people liked my jokes, yay!) We are excited to hopefully workshop the show in the coming months to work out more kinks in preparation so that it might be performed in the 2016 season.
Although I’ll still mainly focus on my novels here, I’ll also give you snippets and updates on this project as it progresses.