Work-In-Progress,  Writing Journey

Writing A Musical vs Writing A Book

Musical Project Update Time! XD

So…in true me fashion, I underestimated how much work this was going to be. I thought I was well prepared coming into the year, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. None of my characters had names. I hadn’t settled on a style, even. Like, if there was going to be singing the entire time, like a traditional opera, or talking in-between songs, like a traditional musical.

I didn’t even have a setting.

I didn’t even have a notebook set up to jot notes and lyrics down in.

I still have idea how to format this even. Am I writing a some kind of screenplay? Am I just going to jot down scene summaries and write songs to go with them? How do people even write musicals anyway?!! Why can’t I just be friends with Lin Manuel Miranda and ask him and get his help since it’s largely his fault I’m doing this anyway? Send help!

With a book, I just take notes, whip up a plot summary, jot down the roles I need, name everyone, and then I start writing. So easy. Like making banana bread. I don’t even measure anything anymore.

Why did I think writing a musical was going to be on a similar level of difficulty to writing a book? Especially since the closest I’ve ever gotten to any kind of a play is a trio of Sailor Moon parody plays that I wrote in the eighth grade? And those are hilarious, by the way. I really should share them.

However, I did take a screenwriting class in college, but the longest project we had was the opening scene for a medium of our choice. I chose a limited supernatural television show to air during the month of October. Of course.

So, maybe I started freaking out halfway through the month. But once I started writing things down and figuring out the finer details (character names, a general setting, and the like), it became more manageable. I was just trying to do too many things at once. It’ll be easier to figure out how to format this things once I know how many acts I’m going to have, which will be easier to figure out once I have a more detailed plot summary, which will be easier to figure out once all the characters have a name, which is the most fun part of any writing project!

So, you know…one step at a time, like a sane person. Though things were certainly much simpler when they were just in my head.

I did know going into this that it would take a lot longer to get together than a novel.  But for some reason, I thought I could just whip up a plot summary, split it into thirds, write some songs, and be finished and ready to present it to Lin Manuel by August. Ha. Past Krystal is funny.

In my head, Lin Manuel is going to mentor me and help me turn this into something that would actually be fun to watch. I thought he might be more willing to help than Andrew Lloyd Webber. Obviously my biggest inspirations are Phantom and Les Mis. And the Titanic movie for some reason. I literally have a character modeled after Billy Zane’s character in Titanic. I’m so excited about it, too. He’s the worst. ^_^

Full disclosure: I had a crush on Billy Zane back in the day. I don’t think I have a good reason for why, outside of just liking his face. You know, I didn’t know his character’s name for years. I just called him Billy Zane. His name is Cal. Or Caledon Hockley, which is an awful snobbish name and I love it.

Anyway, so the point of this post is to say that I haven’t given up and I’m still working on this musical, even though it would be easy to quit. Like, super easy once the initial excitement high wore off. But we’re good now, and I’m starting to have fun again. ^_^


  • Michelle Athy

    I cannot fathom trying to write a musical as I have no musical ability whatsoever. I’m sure there are books on musical structure somewhere or else watch Lin’s various interviews. I know he’s mentioned very nerdy musical writing things before.

    You’re not the only one who thinks they’re friends with Lin Manuel lol

  • Tonja Drecker

    I’m so impressed that you’re tackling this! I wrote a mini-Christmas-musical and compsed the music and songs (ca. 45 min) for my children’s choir years ago…we used a puppet theater instead of having the kids run around and act it out. It was so much fun! Heading on to develop a large musical….well, as said, I’m impressed You can do it 😉

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