When one learns to dance, one generally learns the steps, breaking them down into their component parts and using those parts as the elementary portion of one’s warmup. This works the muscles needed to do the steps, which one must know to be able to concatenate them into a dance.
Then, the dance is made to tell a story.
When one learns to sing, one generally begins with short scales and broken chords on the various vowels, all of which are the rudimentary building blocks of everything that comes next, including adding words and, you got it, telling a story.
When one learns to paint, I’d imagine one begins with pencil and paper, learning to sketch, and moves on to color and other media, so as to have to tools to represent – or non-represent – one’s subject(s). Arguably, a story is told in this medium as well.
But when one learns to write plays, evidently one learns to type, gets some sort of word-processing or screenwriting computer program, and vomits out something that has no underlying structure, not even coherent components.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great proponent of the upchuck school of first drafts, it appears to be how I often work (sorry for all the disclaimer words, but each project comes out differently; hence, the modifiers). I reiterate, on a FIRST draft.
Maybe it’s the TV Idol school of creative writing, anybody can do it. And look what happened to poor Susan Whatzername, who swept the world with her rendition of whatever that popular anthem was, and when she was whirlwinded onto the world stage and had to sing other songs, she crapped out utterly. Then, if memory serves, she went and got some basic, classical training, and now sings just fine.
My first full-length straight play, THE CONSEQUENCE OF IMPRESSION, has been garnering a lot of interest (thank you, Universe), but others of my plays not so much. Why? In the Susan Boyle (finally remembered her name) mode, on that play I worked within a strict boundary I understood well – the 10-minute play – and made a full-length structure that both honored what I knew and left room for creativity. When it came to the next full-length, I figured I knew how to do it and just wrote. Not a bad play, not a good play, one that is relegated to a drawer as being unsalvageable but worth it for the lessons I learned. I’m pretty sure I have learned those lessons, given that recent works are receiving more thoughtful consideration from the world.
If you’re going to do something creative, go for it.
If you’re going to ask others to read/critique/love it, put in a bit more effort to understand the form.