At the beginning of rehearsals for a new show, the director encourages his actors to unleash their maximum energy and explore every possible facet of their characters. He gives them the freedom to portray their personalities with a vigour larger than life. He wants them to fill the rehearsal space with their vitality. Like a blank canvas waiting to be splashed with color, the director wants a bountiful scope in which to play with his vision and eventually mould it into a tight performance. The flavour of a piece cannot be discovered without embellishment.
The first words written for any beginning piece should be unleashed without inhibitions. Just like an actor unearthing the essence of his character, the first draft should be an explosion on the page, with words tumbling over one another, the creation of peculiar characters, curious settings, the possible, the impossible, every aspect of your story exaggerated to its limit. This is the time to play, to have the freedom to invent every possibility for any situation. The editing process will be the time to reign in your story and bring it under control – but there won’t be anything to rework if you don’t unleash every scenario. After the initial outburst on the page, you can step into the shoes of the director, scrutinize your story, and smooth out the rough edges.
The editing process is your director on the page.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.