Trigger Happy

trigger happyI’m halfway through writing Act Two of my current play, in a ferment of creativity, doing work that is as close to automatic writing as anything I’ve ever experienced before.

I have seven characters, most based on real people, but with utterly fictitious action and situations. I created the premise, set things in motion and am now going along for the ride. But it’s not as though I’m in the passenger seat.  I am definitely the source of the impulses in the play, and once I move through the character and act on the impulse, all I then have to do is follow the action. I allow myself to be the chronicler of the action that’s taking place in my imagination, and I let the characters behave according to their personalities. My fingers fly across the keys.

Sometimes the characters do things that are out of character, or seemingly so. But I don’t second-guess those actions. I follow them too, and see where they lead me and the characters in my play. What is occurring is a sequence of events that I would not have predicted, and I and the others in my writing workshop are having such fun watching it happen.

At night before I go to sleep, I play the scenes I just wrote in my head, as all the characters, one at a time, and ponder what I want to do next. I tease out memories of things I’ve set up earlier, and use those set-ups to support what’s about to happen, or what may happen, depending on the characters and how they respond to the ongoing developments. I create triggers that I will use to spur the next event, the next interchange, the next engagement.

It’s such fun. I have a feeling the play is going to be very close to complete, in its first draft. Of course, I’ll polish and edit, and groom and tinker. But oh, boy, this is feeling very good.  I’m going to be thinking and writing more about the use of triggers. I think I’m on to something.

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One thought on “Trigger Happy

  1. Fascinating post! Your thoughts on dramatic “triggers” remind me of Chekhov’s famous statement: “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off.”

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