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Project Log #1

This is the first of a series of logs I am going to make about the development of a long-form project I am working on: A Paul Bunyan musical.

I’ve written plenty of stuff for stage before, and a few songs, but never anything like a musical. I’ve actually tried to write this particular musical a couple of times and both times it’s been pretty crap.

Still, the kernel of the idea is there and it is good.

So, what did we learn from the past attempts?

  • I focused too much on plot at the expense of the characters
  • I didn’t create a compelling arc for the main character, but got caught up in the how of the show’s action, not the more important why.
  • The show is about socialism, but I didn’t know enough about Left theory to articulate that.
  • I wanted to subvert the musical form, but lacked the knowledge and taste to do so.

Instead of running off and creating an outline to then write a brilliant masterwork from, I am going to spend some time — maybe months — in prewrite land.

Prewriting for me includes:

  • Developing characters by using their objective as their core from which everything else radiates from.
  • Researching for setting, theme, color, motion. Research is another way to become inspired and to fill the creative well.
  • Gather the core images that inspired the work int he first place and see how they align together.

I also need to look at what socialist media has been made in the past and become versed in a tradition, respond to it. I also have a new skill of songwriting to learn, and that excites me!

I have another project that I want to work on prewriting this week: a novella. I have a few ideas that need to be fleshed out a bit to see which will stick. I haven’t written a novella since last August, and I’m excited to get another one out soon. If I do, this will be my most prolific year of my life.

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