How to Write a Musical
The process of writing a musical is very similar to writing a screenplay. You will need to follow a step-by-step process. The order in which you write the songs will be up to you, but it is generally advisable to begin writing your musical early so you can work on the other elements of the production. Here are some tips:
Writing a musical is similar to writing a screenplay
Many of the elements of writing a musical script are the same as those used for writing a screenplay. The main difference between the two is that a screenplay on spec is written in a standard format. A musical screenplay, however, can be written in an alternative style, including italics, to emphasize character names and storylines. Ultimately, the story and characters should be compelling, but the musical elements can add spice to the storytelling.
When writing a musical, the writer must define a premise and ensure that everything in the script serves the storyline. Anything that doesn’t fit into this framework should be cut. The storyline should be resonant and compelling, and the music should follow the premise. It can be helpful to have a partner with a background in music to help with song lyrics and structure.
Songs in a musical should be active
An active song engages the audience on multiple levels and achieves a specific goal. Active songs often have a meta-reason, a subtext, or both. These tools make the listener think on three levels, engaging them in the song’s meaning and action. An active song also increases the song’s longevity. But how can you write an active song? Here are some tips:
Repetition makes a song memorable. It creates subtext by forcing the audience to wrestle with the lyrics and music. By doing this, active repetition will command multiple listens from an audience. The approach to active repetition will depend on the aim of the song, its action, and its subtext. The sung text should leave space for the dialogue. If it isn’t, it will seem like a waste of time.
Song placement in a musical is not arbitrary
During a production, it is essential to recognize that song placement is not arbitrary. Each song is a storyteller’s way of communicating the plot of a musical. It captures the major conflict or dramatic event occurring in any scene. Each song should address a problem or conflict that affects the characters and the entire story. Identifying the conflict or major dramatic event of any scene can help the writer make his or her decision about song placement.
Creating a musical synopsis
A musical synopsis is a one-page overview of a story. It helps the reader familiarize themselves with the characters, plot, and song placement. The synopsis should be intriguing to the reader and convey the basic plot and characters. Here are some tips to create a synopsis:
Once you have a clear idea of the plot, you need to decide what you want to say. Musicals can be very broad or very specific, so you have to decide what type of musical you’re writing. If you’re writing for a school musical, your synopsis should reflect the premise of the musical. Make sure to cut out the extraneous material. Remember, musicals are a collaborative medium, so you’ll need to be flexible in your approach to the storyline.
Working with a musically savvy writing partner
When writing a musical, working with a partner who is also musically savvy is a great idea. You can use music writing software to convert your ideas into music. You can also brainstorm ideas for songs. When writing a musical that involves several songs, you need to be sure to flow from one scene to the next. In addition, you should keep a notepad handy to keep track of ideas.
When choosing a partner, consider his or her taste in music and your own. While two people who have similar tastes will usually work well together, you should also consider the ways in which your collaborator perceives music. Make sure you respect each other’s individual styles, but remember to be honest about how you feel about each song. This way, you will both know if your songs flow well with each other and how they relate to each other.