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Thoughts on Adapting

A couple of weeks ago in my playwriting class, we were assigned to adapt something, be it a short story, movie, poem, or song lyric, for the stage.  It was an excercise in cutting, twisting, and shaping something already in existence into a form that would be acceptable on stage for a live performance.  I picked my own short story, “Strangers,” (first published on WritingRaw.com) and thought for sure that I would butcher it.  After all, who knows better than the author what the story is trying to convey?  Apparently, I didn’t.

Over-all, I am shocked at the twist this story took on the stage.  As a short story, “Strangers” reads like a piece of pop fiction.  Not that I have anything against pop fiction; I happen to love it.  But it wasn’t conveying the larger message that I had wanted it to.  It’s a neat story because so many people can relate, although I have to admit, as the author I am slightly bias, as it is based on real people.  I’m in love with this story because it has so much to do with forgiveness, and acceptance, even though the original didn’t quite come across that way.

In the adaptation, I added a few characters, changed some story, and wow, does it come across differently!  This story was meant for the stage.  It’s so much more real, the thoughts are sincere, and I believe it speaks better than the original story ever did.  I’m very happy with the adaptation.  I’m nostalgic for the feelings that it has dealt with for so long.  It’s bittersweet.  The adaptation has given me closure on a real event, but I miss those private moments now that I’ve shared them.

All together, I can’t explain how happy it makes me that I took the chance on this.  A few years ago, I would never have thought to write a paragraph, let alone a short story or play. I would not have believed that I would be good at something.  I wouldn’t have believed in me.  I’ve adapted.  I’ve adapted from the girl who hung out in bars, searching for that feeling that was going to stop the fire inside.  I used to try to drown that flame, not knowing that the burning was a desire to free the creative side of me.  Who knew that a bar fly could turn straight-A student?  Who knew that this little girl that had been kicked so many times could be a writer?

One person knew, and it’s to him that I dedicate the final version of Strangers, now adapted for the stage.  I will eventually produce this play, and the printed version will read, “Trace, you picked me up out of the gutter, and handed me back my life even though we didn’t stay in touch.  I want you to know it matters.  After all this time, it still matters.”

Keep on writing!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Writing

 

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What’s Your Genre?

So I’ll be a senior in about eight weeks.  As pointed out by a friend of mine, I’ve taken every creative writing class that Keystone has to offer.  I’ve taken Intro to Creative Writing, Fiction, Screenwriting, Poetry, and I’m in the process of taking Playwriting, and Creative Nonfiction.  I’m a little sad that I’ve finished the classes because they encourage me to write.  They give me a goal, and a deadline.  And, I’ve gotten some fabulous pieces out of these classes.

Fiction was my favorite, by far.  There’s something comforting about writing fiction.  You get to play God, and change how the characters think, feel, or act.  You can tell a piece of non-fiction and change the ending to suit yourself.  You can provide exposition, and you don’t have to disguise it.  At times, I think fiction is the easiest genre to write.

I’ve come to realize that while fiction is my first love, I’m also pretty darn good at other genres.  Poetry was frustrating, but  it taught me to focus.  It taught me compression. I’ve completed an advanced class, had three poems published by The Plume, and gotten a good response from the five poems I read, written in the workshop I took with local poet, Brian Fanelli.  I learned to think outside the box in the poetry genre.  I’ve continued to draft poems, although I swore I would never write poetry again!  Never say never….

Screenwriting was the most maddening class that I’ve ever taken, yet I took away the best parts of it.  I learned to write as though I am looking through a camera lens, and I also mastered writing in the present tense.  That always gave me a problem before I took the class.  I don’t see me writing a screenplay in the near future, but it’s a great genre to teach a writer how to handle exposition, which you can’t come right out and give.

Creative Nonfiction may be my second favorite genre.  I love being able to use my experiences, and direct an audience to a realization.  I’ve graduated the school of hard knocks, so I’ve got a lot to share.  This genre is neat because it teaches you to distance yourself from emotional events as a writer.  I am really enjoying this class.

Playwriting is a cool genre to check out.  Eight weeks in to the semester has taught me a strong mastery of dialogue, and the need for a strong plot.  It’s also teaching me to write, even when I don’t feel like it.  I do write every day, but having a firm deadline forces me to create something even when I don’t want to.  I’m also learning that I do have talent.  And that’s been the hardest lesson for me. 

I guess the point of this is that all the genres of writing are helpful, in one area or another.  I recommend taking as many writing classes as possible, even if you think you know it all.  You may be surprised at what you don’t!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Writing

 

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