I’m very excited. Yesterday I had my first formal meeting with Neil Gooding and Peter Rutherford about turning my kids’ book, Victor’s Quest, into a musical. I’m doubly excited because Neil and Peter are letting me have a go at writing the play and the lyrics (which is, interestingly, called a ‘book’).
Neil Gooding is the producer: check him out here.
Peter Rutherford is the composer: you can read about him here or, better yet, go to iTunes and download his recent shows, Love Bites and The Hatpin. Then you’ll know how lucky I am to be working with these two.
While I started writing as a scriptwriter for kids’ TV, I’ve never written for the stage except doing Readers’ Theatre adaptations of a couple of stories. So the process will be fascinating.
Already there are surprises. My first job is to do an outline. Although we’ve agreed to aim for a 75 minutes performance without an interval, Neil and Peter don’t need me to stick to specific timings in my outline or first draft. Musicals, they tell me, tend to be too long to start with, then get whittled away in workshops and tryouts until only the bits that work are left.
This is sooo different to the way I usually work, in either script or prose. TV scripts are so precisely timed that there is no wiggle room, and woe betide a writer who turns in a script which is too long.
When I write books, I tend to write more in my second draft than my first, so I have found it best to aim a little below – if my contract says 100 000 words, I will aim for 90 000 in my first draft, knowing I will have to add things once the editor gets to it. I have a tendency to not explain things well enough, or not to flesh them out enough, and editors frequently ask me for ‘more on this section, please’.
So I find the idea of writing more than you need and then cutting back quite challenging!
Peter is looking at the book now to see which bits ‘cry out for a song’ – he’ll let me know and I’ll incorporate that into the outline. Some are obvious, but I was fascinated to hear him say that he liked Victor’s Quest more than Victor’s Challenge for a musical because there were more gaps in Victor’s Quest where Victor is just doing stuff, where the music can come in. So beware of dialogue, I guess, unless it’s sung!
My tasks: to write the outline and to watch Into the Woods, Peter’s favourite musical.
I will keep you posted.