As I’ve done before a few times already, I emerged from this weekend’s Improv class with a simple, yet elegant bit of advice for Improvisation that applies wonderfully to writing. My second level improv class is taught by the inimitable Billy Merritt, and in our first class (since it’s a second level course) we dove right into scene exercises.
At one point a scene stalled and began to stumble and flail for forward momentum. After the scene was cut and he was offering feedback, Billy gave this advice:
“When in doubt, have a good conversation.”
I’ve had this issue before with scenes in novels, I sit at the computer and know what the “game” (to borrow an improv term) or target of my scene is. However, while I have setting, goal, and cast, I can’t seem to get anything going.
I wrote almost two years ago about how I’m what the Writing Community refers to as a “pantser” scene by scene, these days I recognize that what I most often do is one man improv between my characters based on the game and target scene to scene. Truth is, as it works on stage, it works also on the page. When in doubt, have a good conversation to get things going.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this works for more than just improv and writing, it works pretty well in life too. Cheesy? Sure, but still very true.
Happy St. Patrick’s day folks.