Thank you, thank you… yes I am… (blush, giggle, swelling of pride).
Then she encouraged me to take another look at my play and see where the language could be tightened up. “It’s an opportunity to revise your play and really make it shine.”
So I did. I read and re-read my play, chopping out whole sections of dialogue. I looked for anything that slowed down the pace. A farce really should have quick and witty language and lots of action. After a week of hard work, I had the page count down to 115 pages.
Calling my friend again, I begged for help. I’d been working on The Guru for five years and had lost all perspective. I needed someone with an ax to chop my play. She agreed to try.
With her help, I got my play down to 98 pages. The process was as challenging as crossing a busy street under blindfold during grad school, because I was afraid one cut would unravel the whole plot. But by chopping so many pages, I think my play is cleaner and the humor more precise. I think revising for length helped me see it with clearer eyes and a better understanding of how to write comedy.
I sent it back to the theater company and now I wait to see if a director picks it up. Man I hope my play is fine just as it is because after all these years of hard work, I’m sick of the damn thing.
Why have plays gotten shorter? Hasn’t everything? Movies, books, albums… full-course dinners. It’s just the times we live in and I’m not going to debate if this is a bad thing. We had long attention spans in the so-called “olden days” because there was less to grab our attention. Now we have so much to choose from it’s hard to stay focused on one thing. Is that bad? Lots of experts seem to think so. But revising with the knowledge that we need to hold a reader’s shorter attention span encourages us to write with precision. Our characters need to show themselves through action and word, not backstory. A little exposition goes a long way. You really have to make every word count. Notice I said revising. Don’t worry about it during the writing of your play or story, just write the absolute best story you can create. Then take an ax to it during editing; you need an ax, not a scalpel anymore. “Kill your darlings” has never needed to be more bloody than today.