Tips & Advice
Click on the titles below for inspirational advice from Steve.
There are, of course, no unimportant moments in any show. Every moment is critical. Each one must be integrated into the whole, and must be filled with conflict, suspense, and the anticipation of what is next to come. But two moments rise above all others in status: the opening and closing moments. So, why are openings and closings so very important? What makes them so special?
Conflict is the foundation of all drama. It is the one thing that no one wants in their life, yet it is an indispensable element of every story.
If you are the least bit successful in the business of show you will be routinely confronted by the opinions of others. It is inevitable. You must learn how to cope with and manage criticism. This will be as true at the end of your career as it is at the beginning. No one gets to evade all those slings and arrows.
Rewriting is everything. I love to rewrite. It’s fun. To me, rewriting is where the heart of the art lies. It’s where I get to sculpt, shape, color, tighten, and make the words dance.
A question commonly asked of writers is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Fair enough, though I think it should be obvious. The simple answer is, “Everywhere.”
Just about every popular show offers enough “special moments” that many patrons will walk away with the perception that the entire work was both magical and memorable. So, what is that magic, and how can a writer achieve it?
One of the traps that novice writers of musicals frequently step into is the misapplication of lyrics. Although most every memorable musical tells a story, the songs should rarely have the burden of explaining the narrative or exposition or plot. Writers may have heard that songs are supposed to advance the plot, but newer composers and lyricists often rely on the lyrics to carry far too much of the story’s water.
What audiences demand most of all is to discover a unique protagonist to whom they can attach themselves and follow as he pursues a powerful goal. The goal is the hook. Pursuing it is what keeps the audience invested in the protagonist and his story.
It is the pursuit of a protagonist’s grand goal that grabs us and keeps our attention. We want to live vicariously through a hero’s struggles. We want to see if the hero can achieve his mission or not.
One excellent way to avoid some of the pitfalls a musical creator may face is to spend a serious amount of time working out the story in some detail prior to writing the libretto.