Ode To Ad Lib

Been looking on trying to fare better at being productive as a writer, and the various techniques to employ. One of the things I like doing is being spontaneous, and not planning too far ahead. This sometimes flies in the face of my education/teachings where things need to be planned and worked out. Endings needs resolving via beat outlines (for screenplays and scrips), which is one method of developing the narrative into a coherent story. It didn’t hurt to learn this, and understand pats of screenplays.

It’s been taught, and I’ve read it in several other storytelling books. I will say this. You will need to know the spine for some stories. For example: A standard screenplay and a half-hour TV show has three acts.  An hour-long TV has four acts with act breaks (unless it’s a premium cable program-then no act breaks). I could go on. I consider these facts a “must” in order to develop a story. A beat outline takes each act and brakes the scenes down for the story so you have a guide in the direction you wish to pursue. Several of your ideas are resolved. This is not to say it can’t be rewritten-it will be rewritten.

Sometimes, however, I do feel a need to improvise a lot of things, and here’s why. There are times when I try to write, and I get a bit caught up in being artistic, and creative.  My own techniques fail me. I can write something, and get a little over-indulgent in descriptions. It leaves the material rather dense, and people stop reading, or get bogged down with too many details. It’s me trying to make sure everything is understood and has a purpose for the reader, which, as I said was too dense. Sometimes I don’t know how to free myself from that, and I get a little frustrated with myself for stripping the fun out of writing.

What I have noticed, over time, is I can ad lib with some interesting results. When creating for my family and friends, sometimes, I stop over thinking the process of writing. I put in a few details, let the characters talk, and the chips fall where they may.  The spine of the story is usually in my head, and I know where events lead. The end results typically yields a lot of laughter from my peeps. In turn I laugh when they’re happy. I see a potential to expand on my ad libbing. As I said, I love making people laugh, and if the stories do that, then I want to try a fresh method that gets my mind to write without cockblocking the humor, details, and flow of the story.

So, I learned the rules, then supplemented said rules with lots of reading, and learning the various styles of other screenwriters (and some prose writers as well). Now their in my psyche as I attempt to ad lib more, and think less. I wouldn’t call this Zen, but it helps me see potential in diverse methods, and I can’t beat the results. I should also add a lot of good ideas come from random thoughts, that most people would think no one would find interesting (sometimes I think that way). I’m being outside the box and scared of it. Better to be a tad scared, and work with the process.

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