V. HOW MUCH OF THE PLAYLET IS ACHIEVED WITH THE IDEA
No two persons in this world act alike, and certainly no two persons think alike. How much of a playlet is achieved when the germ idea is found and recognized, depends somewhat upon the idea—whether it is of characters that must be fitted with a story, a series of incidents, or one incident only—but more upon the writer. I have known playlets which were the results of ideas that originated in the concepts of clever final situations, the last two minutes of the playlet serving as the incentive to the construction of the story that led inevitably up to the climax. I have also known playlets whose big scenes were the original ideas—the opening and finish being fitted to them. One or two writers have told me of playlets which came almost entirely organized and motivated into their minds with the first appearance of the germ idea. And others have told me of the hours of careful thinking through which they saw, in divers half-purposes of doubt, the action and the characters emerge into a definite, purposeful whole.
What one writer considers a full-fledged germ idea, may be to another but the first faint evidence that an idea may possibly be there. The skilled playlet-writer will certainly grasp a germ idea, and appraise its worth quicker than the novice can. In the eager acceptance of half-formed ideas that speciously glitter, lies the pitfall which entraps many a beginner. Therefore, engrave on the tablets of your resolution this determination and single standard:
Never accept a subject as a germ idea and begin to write a playlet until you have turned its theme over in your mind a sufficient length of time to establish its worth beyond question. Consider it from every angle in the light of the suggestions in this chapter, and make its characters and its action as familiar to you as is the location of every article in your own room. Then, when your instinct for the dramatic tells you there is no doubt that here is the germ idea of a playlet, state it in one short sentence, and consider that statement as a problem that must be solved logically, clearly and conclusively, within the requirements of the playlet form.
With the germ idea the entire playlet may flood into the writer’s mind, or come in little waves that rise continually, like the ever advancing tide, to the flood that touches high-water mark. But, however complete the germ idea may be, it depends upon the writer alone whether he struggles like a novice to keep his dramatic head above water, or strikes out with the bold, free strokes of the practised swimmer.
THE DRAMATIC—THE VITAL ELEMENT OF PLOT
What the dramatic is—no matter whether it be serious or comic in tone—requires some consideration in a volume such as this, even though but a brief discussion is possible and only a line of thought may be pointed out.