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Words, words, words.

So. Your Humble Blogger is appearing in a short (10-minute) play as part of a night of one-act plays written by a local fellow. My role is that of an upper-crust galley slave, which is funny in itself, innit? And the piece is really well-done: the premise is excellent, the pacing works, it builds to a conclusion, and on the way there are lots of funny bits which are, in my arrogant opinion, funny. So that’s all right, d’ye’see?

The problem is that in many places, the actual words and sentences aren’t quite perfect. They aren’t terrible—there aren’t any clunkers or infelicities that I think will jar an audience member out of the scene. It’s just that there are a bunch of places where a slight difference in the phrasing would be a little… well… a little better. I and I find that it’s very difficult for me to memorize the lines the way they were written, rather than the way I think they ought to have been written. Have I written before about how much easier it is to memorize well-written lines?

As an example: Oh, don’t worry about me! I’ve worked with all kinds of different types. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Only I keep saying I’ve worked with all sorts instead. And I do think that all sorts is better than all kinds of different types. Not much better, but better. Similarly, there’s a spot where I want to say ripped and the script says tore, a That’s wonderful to hear that comes out I’m so glad to hear that, and I want to say I was onboard instead of just saying I was there. And so on and so forth. I have thirty-seven lines (my character is comically garrulous) and there are, oh, more than a dozen such bumps in the proverbial.

Our author is a nice fellow with no more than the requisite amount of ego. He has taken wording suggestions very well, in the small handful of places we have made them during our rehearsals. What’s more, he has indicated that he won’t be too upset if we make a slip or two in the words of the thing. Still and all, I want to read what the writer has written—not only because it’s still possible that, you know, I am wrong and he is right, but also because it’s the premiere of the thing, the first time the man will hear it in front of an audience, and I would think that it would be better for him to hear the dialogue as he is written it, and if I am right, he will hear that, and if I am wrong, he will hear that, too.

Still. It’s a struggle to memorize them that way. And while that’s certainly not the main distinction between good writing and bad, it’s illuminating to me, as my Best Reader and I are working on writing something of our own.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

Unhelpful, I know, but there's a particular ring to "all kinds of different types" -- a sniffy oh-I-wouldn't-presume-to-judge-my-inferiors -- that isn't there in "all sorts."

Faithfully missing the point since the Bicentennial,

Dan


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