Upon Reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott: Writing – Set Design, False Starts, & Plot Treatment

Set Design

“It may help you to know what the room looks like where the action will be taking place. You want to know its feel, its temperature, its colors.” ~p. 74

The English Department where I pursued my Bachelor Degree has this annual drama performance and is known for its fine quality. Great music, great acting quality, amazing costume, and of course, amazing set design.

The biggest performance I’ve ever watched was perhaps, in 2010, when they had William Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream. They did said that they’ve been wanting to perform this, but always got delayed.

Perhaps just like James Cameron been delaying Avatar, waiting for the right technology.

And it is also said that it’d be the greatest drama performance ever and that there wouldn’t be any drama as great as this, at least for some time.

Of course, the next year performance is also enjoyable, and hilarious as usual, but the set design, costumes, and preparation were incomparable.

It was massive, indeed, and they probably had the most amazing set I’ve ever sen on stage. They created this big giant tree with tiny wheels underneath so they could later turn it around and it’d transformed into a giant pillar. What really wow-ed me as well is this amazing giant lotus which they prepared for Titania’s cradle/throne. Amazing. They put a light somewhere in it so when her fairies closed it, it would glow in the dark. Wish I had the pic. It’s amazing.

“Metaphors are a great language tool, because they explain the unknown in terms of the known.” ~p. 77

I love metaphors. I really do. Because they usually consist in sarcasm. And oh yeah, I love sarcasm.

But the real reason I really love metaphors is because of beauty of the words and sentences that are formed in them.

With metaphors, I think, each writer can become his/her own of Shakespeare. Let the reader interpret your words, and you chuckled at each of their guesses. Correct or incorrect–although you would probably prefer the correct guess, because when it’s incorrect, you would ask yourself whether you wrote a terrible pieces of word or probably you’re just a terrible writer.

False Starts

“I talked earlier about the artist who is trying to capture something in one corner of his canvas but keeps discovering that what he has painted is not what he had in mind. He keeps covering his work over with white paint each time that he discovers what it isn’t, and each time this brings him closer to discovering what it is.” ~p. 80

Oh, no. Not this one again, please.

When I was in elementary school, I saw my mom made a cross stitch. I asked her what it was, and later, she taught me how to do it myself.

For a beginner, you would usually learn how to cross stitch with a help of a picture. Like, you would buy the tiled cloth with a picture printed on it already, usually to help beginner learners to make a pattern, or more like a picture to me.

I don’t remember my first cross stitch. But I remember I crossed stitch a picture of Tweety once.

Once you become an expert in cross stitch, you wouldn’t need the picture as the guidelines no longer. Those experts would usually buy a blank fabric cloth used for cross stitch, and just stitch it away. Then suddenly, voila! We got a beautiful  picture of a lake and a mountain there.

If only writing could be that easy as well.

Instead of painting and painting, then scrapping it again and again, then start all over again, why can’t we all have a picture as a guidelines instead?

“You can see the underlying essence only when you strip away the busyness, and then some surprising connections appear.” ~p. 84

Oh, shoot.

Plot Treatment

I don’t understand plot treatment at all, I don’t understand it, I don’t understand, I don’t–

I read one of Lamott’s experiences about how she had to scrap her stories after she put one of her best efforts. She went through all these nightmares and she even wrote three drafts before her editor finally approved her writing.

I do not want to go through the same nightmare.

No, I don’t.


No way.

But apparently, all of us need to go through this stage.


Then she pointed out how plot treatment could really help writers in getting out of the problem.

Maybe sometimes all we need to do is to remember what we actually wanna do with the story–how we actually want the story to turn out–then, start writing again. Start all over again, and stick to the plot. Don’t get sidetracked, don’t–

Argh. Painful process.

Can’t I skip this?