Why We Love Wicked and What We Can Learn From It
1. It's based on a story most of us know and love.
This has become a successful tool for many writers, and it's not really a new technique. Think of the number of Cinderella and Peter Pan stories there are or how about even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? The author of Wicked and the writers of the play and music have shown us a more human side to the Wicked Witch of the West, a character many of us feared growing up. (Come on, you can admit it.) We all want to get the inside scoop, and that's what Wicked does for us--it extends our love for The Wizard of Oz and gives us a new way to look at those classic characters.
2. It's clever.
If you've never seen this musical, you can easily Google "lyrics from Wicked" and read the song lyrics to see how clever this show is. One of the Elphaba's songs (the Wicked Witch of the West who is a mere young lady trying to fit in at school, with green skin and magical powers) has this line: "I'll be so happy I could melt!" (HA! If she only knew what happens when Dorothy arrives...) Even her name is clever--derived from the initials of the author of Wizard of Oz-- L. Frank Baum (L F B). We also learn the reasons for a lion without courage, a man made out of a tin, and a talking scarecrow. And finally, there's an answer of why those darn ruby red slippers are so important to the green lady. If you can be witty and clever in your writing (or funny), then do it. Your audience will love it--people love to be reading along or watching a movie and think: ah-ha, I get this--now I am clever too!
3. The universal themes resonate with all of us.
I really think this is the main reason why Wicked keeps selling out show after show. Yes, the music is catchy, and because of the two reasons above. But both the novel and the musical are about a friendship between two women that withstands jealousy, corruption, and near-death and comes out even stronger than when it started. Plus, the themes of power, love, fitting in, family struggles, media frenzy, and more are explored while we are singing and laughing along with the two witches. Universal themes are present in fiction (or should be) as well as memoirs. What are the themes you are exploring and are they important to people? Answer these two questions, and your work will touch the readers who get to enjoy it.
So we are off to Wicked! But before we go, I have to leave you with one of my favorite song lyrics of the entire show and one that I think will mean something to many of the readers of this blog:
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!
It's time to try
http://www.margodill.com or check out the class she teaches in the WOW! Women On Writing classroom.
photo of Elphaba by The Western Sky on Flickr.com