Context is essential but it doesn’t create drama. What creates the drama is the WOTE. Every time there is a significant shift in the music (like where you put boxes in your music as outlined in Day 1) by definition something had to have changed in your characters WOTE to make sense of the musical change. We will discuss why this is in a later lesson. For today it is enough to identify that the music needs to appear to be a natural product of whatever your character is trying to express or do.
What is WOTE
WOTE stands for :
Want – What does your character want or need at this moment.? We as humans don’t do an action without wanting or needing something. It might not be a conscious decision but is still spurred by want or need. Without a want, there is no action.
Obstacle – What keeps your character from getting what they want? Without an obstacle, there is no drama. The stronger the want and the strong the obstacle the more intense the drama. Remember this when the scene just isn’t as intense as the music and text are calling for. Help yourself by choosing a compelling want or need and make the obstacle as difficult as possible to overcome without killing your characters hope to overcome it.
Tactic – This is what your character does to try to overcome the obstacle. For example, if I want chocolate cake the obstacle is that I don’t currently have any chocolate cake. My tactic is to go get in the car, go to the store, and buy some chocolate cake.
Expectation – This is what your character expects to happen by using the above tactic to overcome the obstacle to get what they want.
Tactics and Expectations are the most likely parts of WOTE to change from box to box within your song. For example, in the cake scenario above my expectation is that my car will work, that the store will be open and have chocolate cake, and that I will have money to buy that cake, and that I will then bring that cake home safe and sound. Do you see the potential for drama in this culinary tale yet?
- Changing all the WOTEs at every box. Remember, all might have changed but most likely only 1 or two have changed. In general, when one letter changes usually the following letters change but not necessarily the ones before. For example, if only the tactic changes then you will probably need to change the expectation. If the expectation changes then nothing else has to change.
- Changing none of the WOTEs at a box. If you don’t think any of the WOTEs changed then either you put a box at the wrong place or you need to do more work giving your imagination something to work with.
- Not doing your homework from Day 1. There is method in the madness here. The process we are using here for just one song will ultimately need to be applied to every song, musical, opera, concert, etc.
- Not making your want or obstacle strong enough. The intensity of the drama and conflict comes from the intensity of your want and the obstacle keeping you from getting what you want.
- Making your obstacle or want too strong in relation to the other. Keep the obstacle or want intensity as balanced as possible to make the most dramatic situation. If the obstacle is too strong for the want then we lose hope or give up. If the want is too strong for the obstacle then the drama finishes too quickly. For example, if in our chocolate cake story the obstacle is that I don’t have a car and the store is ten miles away and will close in five minutes then I just won’t go get the cake – the story is over.
- Not making your want or obstacle believable within the context of the song or show. If your want or obstacle isn’t believable then the drama that comes from it won’t be either. This has great potential for comedic effect though.