Are all stories really the same? And does a female character have to be likeable? #NewYearNewPlay #WritingTips

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Are you kick starting your year with a new creative project?

I’m starting 2016 with rewriting. I’m taking a shorter project and making it longer, with the help of a director to make sure I’m making sense (and with the hope it’ll be produced). At first the task felt daunting, I thought ‘I’ve said all I have to stay with the story as it is!’, but as I looked again, I could see holes in the story and my struggle (or avoidance) to write a good middle with proper development that the audience can then empathise with and really get behind. It’s actually becoming a really liberating opportunity to immerse myself in my story and characters and also think about what the play is saying.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog project last year #12newplaywrightsin12months where I looked at writers who’s work I hadn’t read or seen before, picking up tips that I could apply to my own work. One of my biggest findings and possibly one of the toughest things as a writer is learning to write well and experiment with your own style and voice. This is the real key to making an impact with your play. Finding it maybe easy, but understanding how you can use it to your advantage in a well crafted piece takes skill and opportunity. So as I have the opportunity now I’ve been trawling the web for a little guidance to get me started.

I found this great article by John Yorke, which is actually an excerpt from his book Into the Woods, which I haven’t read, yet, but in this article he looks at the possibility of how all stories are essentially the same as they all

‘journey into the woods to find the dark but life-giving secret within.’

It’s a great read if you’ve come to that point in the writing process where you’re reviewing what kind of story you’re telling to really maximise it’s impact and it has also made me think about how I’m telling it as well as what I’m telling.

Another great article I’ve found is this one. It asks whether all female characters have to be likeable (which they obviously don’t) and then looks at the trend in novels for unlikeable woman protagonists, from Gone Girl to Vanity Fair.

How can all stories be the same yet original?

If the female character is too unlikeable and transgressive, does the audience switch off?

I’m still thinking these things through and I know that my play isn’t going to answer these questions. However by looking at what kind of story I’m actually writing and what I want my audience to feel about my strong female character, I hope to get closer to writing a better play. And I maybe purchasing John Yorke’s book Into the Woods to help me get a little more insight. 🙂

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2 Responses to Are all stories really the same? And does a female character have to be likeable? #NewYearNewPlay #WritingTips

  1. I’d say that if anyone in your audience is too unimaginative to accept that both men and women can be likeable or unlikeable (same as, um, real life), they’re not worth having in your audience. Obviously you need to think about what your audience like, but if pandering to those sort of stupid expectations you can say goodbye to any originality or creativity.

    • Yes I totally agree! One of the things I found interesting about the article is that it identified this trend for female protagonists to be unlikeable and unreliable in their narration and how maybe exploring this may bring more exposure to work that you write now -if it’s in fashion and you’re writing about it now’s maybe a good time to talk to directors about getting your work on. Writing for a fashion never works as fashions come and go, but if this is something you’re already writing then why not try to exploit the trend?

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