The second full-length play I ever wrote was a collaborative piece with four high school students. We had developed a strong idea, and were fleshing out the details of the story. I was quite pleased with how it was going. And then one of the students got the idea to include a random duck walking across stage.
Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
A couple of this student’s friends also thought it would be hilarious to just start randomly putting crazy ideas into the script. As they were plotting and laughing through the destruction of this great story line which was about to randomly collapse, I stepped in and put a stop to all the fun.
Writing can be anything, but it can’t be random.
Writing must be specific, incredibly specific, with every unique detail of the writing feeding into the story that needs to be told.
Randomness is a distraction, and that is precisely what you want to avoid as a writer. A duck walking across the stage that has no other purpose but to put the audience into a panicked confusion will only harm the story.
Only use randomness when the randomness itself actually tells something about the actual story. Other than that, avoid it! (and other meandering mallards.)
In my particular case, I compromised with them. The name of the restaurant in the play began known as “Le Duck” which seemed to satisfy the random writers in my group.
However, I must disclose that when I re-wrote the script last year, “Le Duck” was also crossed out.
So the tip for the day: don’t write randomly. Be specific!