Playwriting

Setting: Inspiration From Place

3

Professor Musgrave told us to have a walk around the neighbourhood where we live and try to see or notice something that could inspire us. I have personally found Stratford a bit lame, so, since I have walked around Stratford many times before, I have been looking for something new to spot and observe.

Actually, I haven’t seen something new. I have taken notice of all the things I see everyday, but I couldn’t spot anything that could really strike me. Then, my boyfriend visited me for three days, so we went to Central London, Camden Town, Stoke Newington and I completely forgot about Stratford. The day he left, though, I sent him off at Stratford bus station. He took the bus for Stansted and I noticed something which I have always seen but I have never looked at really.

We were saying goodbye at 5 am. Next to us, there were many other couples saying goodbye. Maybe forever. Maybe for three days, or three months. I don’t know. Or maybe they were just like us – we didn’t know when we were going to see each other again. So I guess I understood why I like Stratford. Because it is a place where people come and go. They just stop here, say good bye to each other, say hi, meet again after a period apart, or just send each other off. Coming back and going away are always charged with feelings and emotions. And it made me feel like there are many people like me and my boyfriend, brave enough to try to keep on being together even if apart. That’s what many other couples don’t know. The problems, the moments before and after your loved one is gone. This is something only some couples know something about.

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When I told Professor Musgrave about it, he wanted us to do an exercise about getting inspired from a place. And when it is about writing, place means setting. How do we define, describe and determine our setting? What can we find in our setting that could inspire a story? He told us to try to come up with some questions about what we had seen in order to make us think about it.

  1. What are the problems of these couples, how do they know that it is worth to ge together and to try to solve their problems?
  2. Is their long-distance relationship just temporary?
  3. What do they know or have learnt about relationships and love that other “normal” couples don’t/haven’t?

Then he wanted us to expand the previous three questions with other three questions for every one of the original ones.

  • Did they make each other promises about behaving better to improve their relationship?
  • Did they discuss their problems or concerns about the future when they were together?
  • Did they take decisions that will change their relationship forever?
  • When will their long-distance period end up?
  • Will one of them come back or the other is going to visit the other in another place?
  • Do they have a “common place” that both can call home?
  • Did they have issues or challenges they didn’t expect to have before engaging in a long-distance relationship?
  • Did their lives change completely?
  • Do they have an open relationship?

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Professor Musgrave told us to imagine a detail that could change the situation of what we saw. I imagined that he visited her and they were completely happy together, but in the period before they had many issues and she had cheated on him while drunk. She knew it wasn’t important, and now that they are together she is afraid to tell him – because she knows that even if it wasn’t important, she could damage their relationship and he could leave her. She lets him go without telling him, feeling like a shit.

At the end, he didn’t want to know what we had imagine, but here it was. There was a story, a conflict. Something happened. A detail had been changed, and a whole new world of emotions, feelings and thoughts could be explored. It as a useful exercise. Wondering around and watching people in places can be a great resource to the writer.

 

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