Can you build a house without a blueprint?

I guess you could build a house without a blueprint.

But it would probably be pretty loosely constructed, and might fall over, taking you and all of your possessions with it.

Remember analogies on the SATs?  Here’s one for you –

Blueprint is to House as . . .

Outline is to Play.

Can you write a show without an outline?

Sure, but it would probably be pretty loosely constructed, and might fall over, taking you and all of your possessions with it.

Outlines are not only good to get you started (sometimes writing a show seems like such a daunting task, jotting down a scene by scene outline, even if it is only a location for those scenes, can get you off your butt), but they also give you something to go back to during the writing process when things are going “write.”

“What was I thinking there?  How did I get from A to B?  And why?”

Now, as any contractor will tell you, even the best blueprints in the world get modified once you start the horrors of actual construction.  You bump into things you weren’t expecting.  Just like the writing process.  So you might have to adjust that outline.  You might have to change where you want to put that extension or that wiring in order for your plan to work.

But that blueprint, that outline, will not only get you going, but it will keep you on the right track throughout revision after revision.

(Normally, I’d end this blog on that “exit line,” but here’s a tip that I use when creating my outlines.  Each “scene” should have three components:  Where it is, Who is in it, and What each character wants/what happens in that scene.  Write those three things down on index cards.  Then as you revise, you can move scenes around easily.  Flexibility in your outline is essential.  If you like electronic versions of outlines and storyboarding, get Final Draft.  There is no better program for writing and rewriting – and they have an outline version.)


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  • Brock Mardis says:

    Really “Injoy” all of Ken’s material that he provides his subscribers. His suggestions have furthered the production of Peter Copani’s New Musical Drama “A Happy Me Day” in a big way. Thank You for the Invaluable Material and Suggestions that make the Theater Community what it is Today.

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    I have personally over my career kept the index card industry alive OUTLINE!!!!!

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