Writing advice from Lucy Prebble

On Friday evening I saw Lucy Prebble’s latest play The Effect at the National Theatre. Review of that to follow soon, but in a nutshell it was some really great writing. This, teamed with the fact that when I got home I was immediately back to working on my own play, got me thinking about what makes writing great. Then I remembered a talk I once attended by Lucy Prebble about writing. Amongst interesting anecdotes about her career and how she got to where she now is she offered one particularly great piece of advice that I’ve always held with me. That was to – once you have your first draft – go through line by line and check that every single line (even every word) is doing something. That it has a purpose, a point and is furthering the narrative drive and the action in some way. If it isn’t; be ruthless. Delete it. It is only now as I write my second play that I’m really realising the importance of this. I often find it hard due to the primarily monologue based form of the piece, and its tendency towards introspection – but actually with a work such as this, that deviates from a conventional narrative structure I’m finding it’s even more important to pay attention to. Let’s hope it works!

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