In yesterday’s posting, I made my list of “what I’m listening for” at a staged reading. Now, the question now is what to do with that information.
TAKE A BREATH
I like to let the reading sit for a day or two. It helps to get some distance between myself and the script. If there’s a talkback or a critique, I like to give it more time before I start tearing the script apart. That thinking time helps to organize my thoughts.
SIFTING WHEAT FROM CHAFF
Not all your notes – or someone else’s feedback – are useful. I re-read my notes a couple of times. Some things clearly need fixing. Others I want to think some more about. And then there’s the notes you absolutely think are wrong. I don’t burn the paper. Instead, I put those “wrong” ideas someplace – just in case I want to revisit them six months down the line. There’s always the possibility that they were right after all.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
I try to pick one thing that is a) not too disruptive to the rest of the script if I changed it; or b) not too emotionally vexing to change. Just changing one thing gives me courage to do further surgery.
Next, tackle the notes that make the most sense, even if it DOES mean tearing the script apart. You did save the original copy, didn’t you? You can always go back to it.
MAKE THE CHANGES YOU NEED TO MAKE, THEN…
Step back. Let the script breathe. Perhaps schedule another reading, perhaps share with your writing group. Perhaps get it off in the mail to that playwriting contest. Or stick it in a drawer for a little while. Just remember where you put it.