Victoria Zerbst – Rebel Wilson Comedy Commission Blog 3

Plotting along

I made it through my first feedback session with Resident Legend, Jane FitzGerald. It was wonderfully confronting to engage with my First Draft™ again after I submitted it and pretended it never happened, but I was eased into the process with some of Jane’s killer homemade Anzac biscuits. I was ready to confront the demons of self-doubt and I’m really glad it did because I came away with two amazing lessons that I simply must share with you right now.

1. But…Therefore…

Jane showed me this amazing video about writing plot that totally changed the game for me. The two dudes who wrote South Park gave a lecture at NYU and you really should just stop what you’re doing and watch it right now. But if you’re not going to, I will explain it but poorly. Trey Parker and Matt Stone talk about how they build episodes with a proper arc and good plot from all the jokes and ideas they have. They talk about the importance of connecting scenes or moments with words like ‘BUT’ and ‘THEREFORE’ to ensure what they are showing pushes forward and has consequences and…forms a plot.

This was particularly helpful for me because I come to narrative writing with a background in sketch comedy. I love writing really tiny, tiny scenes that are dense with gags and hopefully clever. But connecting these scenes? Time to watch the video to find out how it’s done.

I am currently tracking all the scenes in my draft and making sure they are driving forward. This also means I am editing a lot of scenes out because they simply do not add to the story!!!!! Sad for those scenes that got cut!!!! But it’s the best!!! I will miss them!!

2. Just Like Acting!

I loved drama at school. The subject and the gossip. I really was out there in Year 11 losing myself to Stanislavski’s Method asking myself what every single character on every script page ever wanted. That’s how you be an actor. But, as it turns out, all the acting exercises I did in high school have become very helpful to me as a writer.

A huge part of my redrafting process has been really going through the given circumstances of each character, and making sure I have really compelling and clear environmental and situational conditions that impact their actions in each scene. I have started going back and asking: what does each character really want? What are they trying to get from the other characters around them?

What I love about writing for performance is that you’re creating a blueprint for an actor; someone who is going to pour over your every word and build a character around your thoughts. I love the way actors are trained to think and how they dissect the complexities of our thoughts and feelings to build fleshed out people. I am writing my second draft with actors in mind.

Especially young actors in Year 11 who are living for the drama and are obsessed with creating a memorable character and performance. The thought of a young actor someday somewhere reading my script and asking what their character wants really makes me want to have a good answer.

Now what?

You better believe I’m still in my analysis phase of redrafting. Once I have all my sweet little answers about plot and character I am diving back in and writing some more. I am loving how hard this is, though. My brain hurts and I’m very into it.