Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

(b) The Points that Balance the Preparation with the Result.  Nothing could be more disastrous than to promise with weighty preparation some event stupendously big with meaning and then to offer a weak little result.  And it would be nearly as unfortunate to foreshadow a weak little fulfillment and then to present a tremendous result.  Therefore, you must so order your events that you balance the preparation with the result, to the shade of a dramatic hair.

But take care to avoid a too obvious preparation.  If you disclose too plainly what you are aiming at your end is defeated in advance, because your audience is bound to lapse into a cynically smiling does-this-fellow-take-us-for-babies? attitude.

The art of the dramatic is the art that conceals art.  The middle of your playlet must conceal just enough to keep the stream of suspense flowing eagerly toward the end, which is dimly seen to be inevitably approaching.

(c) The One Event that Makes the Climax Really Big.  From the first speech, through every speech, and in every action, your playlet has moved toward this one event, and now you must bring it out so prominently that everything else sinks into insignificance.  This event is:  The change in the relations of the characters.

This is the planned-for result of all that has gone before.  Bear firmly in mind that you have built up a suspense which this change must crown.  Keep foremost the fact that what you have hidden before you must now disclose.  Lay your cards on the table face up—­all except one.  This last card takes the final trick, completing the hand you have laid down, and everyone watches with breathless interest while you play: 

3.  The Single Point of the Finish

If you can make this final event a surprise, all the better.  But if you cannot change the whole result in one dramatic disclosure, you must be content to lay down your last card, not as a point in itself surprising, but nevertheless dramatically.

The Finish must be Complete—­and Completely Satisfy.  You have sprung your climax; you have disclosed what it is that changes the relations of your characters; now you must show that those relations have been changed.  And at the same time you bring forward the last strand of plot that is loose and weave it into the now complete design.  You must account for everything here in the finish, and do it with speed.


Now let us say that you have expanded the first draft of your plastic scenario into a nearly perfect manuscript.  But as you read it over, you are not content.  You feel that it lacks “punch.”  What is “punch,” and how are you going to add it when it is lacking?

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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