Never Fall in Love with Your Idea


I have an admission to make, I make mistakes while writing. I fall into the trap of falling in love with an idea I think is great. Sure, the idea seems great at the time, but it doesn’t always work out and that’s when I need to accept a change that needs to be made. I have run into this issue with Pigeons by the Charles. In my case, it came from not having enough confidence in my ideas. In the past, if I had to change what I thought was a great idea, I would hem and haw about it. In the back of my head, I was thinking, damn what am I going to do here now. I believed that ditching the idea, killed the plot, or a scene, or ruins a character. I have learned that is not the case.

For Pigeons by The Charles, the challenge was to get rid of all the extraneous settings and create one location, rather than more than five. My fear was it would hurt the script. I accepted the challenge and with it, I now realized I can always come up with a new idea. In some cases the new idea actually has made the script better. That is what occurred with Pigeons By Charles.

In Pigeons, one of the scenes that was the most challenging was the date between Kurt and Julie. I set it at her apartment. Moving it to The Charles killed a lot of funny stage bits. I thought I needed a setting where Kurt could show how nervous he was. By moving this scene to Charles, I discovered new ideas. I was fortunate that I could keep much of the dialogue. I threw out stuff involving Julie’s Archeology roommate. Moving this scene to the Charles makes sense. When Kurt tries to leave, because he is so nervous, Julie asks him not to, because The Charles river is their spot. Why wouldn’t they stop there before Kurt takes Julie home? Moving it to the Charles didn’t change the tenor of the scene, but what it did calm it down a little. I was able to show Kurt’s nerves in a more subdued manner, so he was not all over the place. This deepened the scene. There is a moment when Kurt is too nervous and he just can’t get out of her presence fast enough. I had Julie calm him down by talking about a Coldplay concert they went to. She sings a lyric to The Scientist to him. He calms down by finishing the first verse. Then they talk about the concert. This portion was just a few gag lines I gave Kurt, but I expanded it to have Kurt talk about what happened to him. He took a tab of acid given to him by one of their friends and went on a bad acid trip, which landed him in the hospital. In the hospital, Julie is there by his side. In my mind, that concert was when Kurt fell in love with her. allow me to do was deepen the scene. In the previous setting, Kurt’s nerves were all over the place. The scene probably was a little too over the top.

Another scene I had trouble moving was the camping scene or the marriage proposal. This is a key scene and I could not ditch it. The original scene we see a horrible camping trip, where if anything can go wrong it does. Kurt’s proposal blows up in his face. I could have kept this scene at the camping spot, but something was gnawing at me to get this story to the Charles. Yesterday, as I was working cutting through act one, that scene came into my head. The dialogue came in drips and drabs and I began to hear a story about the camping trip. I heard the story from both perspectives. I wasn’t sure how to start this scene, then little ideas came into my head that brought it together. I had Kurt and Julie both come down to The Charles after a horrible weekend camping. I used the pigeons as a vehicle so Kurt’s and Julie’s could tell their sides of the story. . I made sure the two characters were unaware they were at the Charles together. On Kurt’s side were the male pigeons. On Julie’s side were the female pigeons,(The female pigeons are new as I didn’t have any before. Julius was the only male pigeon with Julie. As both stories play out, Julies leads Kurt over to Julie. Kurt finds Julie playing with his birthday gift, a telescope. This is a new twist in the script. I had an idea for it, but was never sure how to get Kurt’s birthday in. Moving this scene to the Charles allowed me to do that.

Reworking Pigeons by the Charles has taught me many lessons. The most important one is not to be wedded to your ideas, because you think they are funny. Be more confident in your ability to find a new idea. As a writer I have many. Throw out something that is holding the plot back. Get rid of a line if it’s not moving the script. Make speeches as short as you can make them. In general, playwriting has changed. The days of the long drawn out monologue are gone. Monologues tend to hold back the script. In today’s world of one minute attention span, no one is going to pay attention to a monologue if it doesn’t have a point, or move it along. These are lessons learned, which I will utilize in my writing this day forward. Lessons well learned and lived.

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