1. Piankhy
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    Piankhy Member

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    Describing a Play Scene in a Novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Piankhy, Apr 18, 2012.

    Well I figured out the word count issue in the other thread I had (I settled on 90,000 as a goal), but I've come upon a major problem in my book.
    Here's a quick summary:

    "MC wins a literary contest at school and gets recruited by the drama club to be their playwright. MC is hesistant at first but after learning his love interest is in the club, he decides to get serious about it. The MC's goal becomes to write the perfect script for his love interest to star in and he wants a big crowd to watch her. After endless re-writes and first drafts, he finally writes the perfect script. Next, the MC uses several ploys and plots to lure in a big audience to his poor school."

    Now here's the problem, I spent a lot of chapters about the MC's trials and tribulation to write the script and bring in a big audience for the play. What I don't know, is how to go about the play itself. Do I describe bits and pieces of the play as it happens and throw in the crowd's reaction, every now and then. Or do I do a time skip? You know, MC prays for success as the play starts, fast foward to next chapter where he explains how the crowd recieved it.

    I'm asking because I don't want to cheat the reader after hyping up the play so much. If possible, do any of you know books that describes a person viewing a play? Or any books that would probably help me in this situation.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    If your hyping up the play, how much the MC has worked on it and trying to get a large audiance for it, I think it would be a total cheat and possible ruin the story for readers if you just skip to after the show and having the MC and/or other characters talking about how it went. You could at least have the beginning of the play, the curtains rising and the reaction of the audience upon first sight, and then the end scene and show how the audience is there.
     
  3. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I agree with Pink-Angel. I'm sure you must have an idea about what the play itself is about. You could do opening night - the nervous anticipation etc. he could be watching off stage as his love interest says her first few lines etc. And then you could then do the closing scenes (as a separate chapter) and maybe the love interest has the final words and how amazing she is.
     
  4. Piankhy
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    Piankhy Member

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    I actually would prefer to describe the play, its just I've never seen a book where a character went to a play and actually described the experience. So I pretty much have nothing for an example or template right now. At the very least I just ordered the "Drama Club" series off Amazon so hopefully that'll help. The only problem with that, is that it'll take weeks for it get here and the play is in my next chapter. With how my mind jumps around, if I take a few weeks off this project, I'll end up completely engrossed in another.

    Oh, I actually wrote a short story for the play to be based off of. I just need to figure out how to present this story in first person from a audience member's perspective.

    Appreciate the responses, you pretty much confirmed my thoughts of not taking the lazy way out (the time skip thing) on this issue.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if describing what happens in the play has some vital connection to the plot, such as an actual murder that takes place on stage, then go ahead... but if it's not, then tossing in bits of it for no good reason will take away from the plot, delay the story's action, and annoy the bleep outa the readers...

    a time skip would be much preferable to wasting the readers' time with having to plow through play scenes that have no bearing on what's happening in the mc's life plot-wise...
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Funny enough, that's exactly the plot I'm working on. A murder happens when one of the characters playing Ophelia breaks out of character and charges to kill another character during the play Hamlet.

    I agree with you, mam. If the play is important to the plotline, then keep it. If it's just there as a throw-away scene and won't do anything to continue the plot (ie, murder on stage, or the MC recieves a message from one of his companions while he's attending a play...) then don't bother.
     
  7. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I agree with maia and would like to say that you will be cheating the readers more if you veer away from the plot just to include the play. By all means include the play, but let things happen of and on stage during the play that affects the plot. Murder may be an extreme example, but may be things that happen during the play make the mc realize that his love for her is an illusion! ;)
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with mamma's point that it needs to be part of the story. You don't have to tell the story of the play (and for Gods sake, don't give a synopsis, either in narrative or dialogue!) but you can use bits and pieces to give the reader a sense of what is going on in the play. The playwright might describe a scene to his love interest, or to a friend, or perhaps to the director of the play. Off the top of my head, I can think of two plays that were about plays. Oddly, both were musicals. They might give you some idea of how you can do this. The first was one of Rogers and Hammerstein's less well known (and less successful) musicals, "Me and Juliet" (you knew they were in trouble when Richard Rogers ripped off his "Victory at Sea" score for one of the love songs). The second was the more recent Tony Award winning "Curtains".

    Good luck.
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I don't think it would be necessary. From what you have described all the reader would want to know is if it worked or not.

    Personally, I would find a way to not show the play. Off the top of my head, MC is too nervous to watch it himself. Perhaps he hides somewhere in the school, just close enough to hear roars of laughter.
     
  10. Piankhy
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    Lol, I guess I'll retract this statement.

    No, describing the play isn't necessary at all for the plot, I just felt that the readers might get irratated if I didn't add it. After reading your comments and taking into consideration how I want my novel to go, I believe that time-skipping would be the best for me. I've thought a few good things of how to go about it too.

    The main one being that the love interest introduces the MC to her boyfriend right before the play. Heartbroken because he just found out she's taken and slightly angered that he wasted so much time trying to help her, the MC walks out on the play and goes home. A few hours later, he turns on the radio and gets a good shock by hearing them mention his play. So that would be how he got news of how the play turned out. Her having a boyfriend wasn't in my plot but it gives me some nice ideas for character progression.

    You guys have been a great help, thanks for your time and consideration!
     

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