Tuesday, March 6, 2012


True Story:  I LOVED Xanadu as a little girl.  I wanted to grow up and be Olivia Newton John.  I listened to the Xanadu record all the way up until 1992 (that is the fateful year we moved to Seattle and somehow in that move I lost all of the good records.  Simon & Garfunkel, The Beattles, Elvis, The Judds, Annie, and Xanadu).

Monday night my sweet hubby took me to see the musical Xanadu.  I was so excited until I realized that its a spoof.  Then I read the program.  It made me question my taste:
"Fans of the 1980 movie Xanadu, (all ten of you) and haters (many, many of you) . . ."

I was feeling rather embarrassed.  (Now truth be told, its been at least 10 years since I've seen it and I think I was a little disheartened when I did see it.)  I wish I had known going into it that it was a spoof.  I would have enjoyed it from the beginning.

Now, that was a really long intro to get to the meat of what I want to say to you.  Again I quote the handbill:

When ...Xanadu...opened to disastrous reviews and low box office performance, it sent shock waves through Hollywood.  How could Hollywood's hottest star, a magical roller derby, Greek muses, pop music, Zeus, and disco skating go wrong?

As a writer's group we've discussed this very problem: Cramming too many cool things into one plot.  Sometimes the idea factory gets going and we have all these AMAZING ideas.  But then our plot starts to look like a Xanadu disaster with roller skates and shockingly short shorts. (Quick side note: we saw this in a small theatre and had front row seats, which meant that I leaned back when the dancers kicked.  I was at eye level with Sonny Malone's thighs much of the night.  Way too much hairy skin for my taste.)

So, avoid being a Hollywood disaster and write down those cool ideas and use just a few for each plot.  This way you'll never run out of story ideas.

Happy Writing.

PS I am listening to the original Olivia/ELO soundtrack as I type this.  Sometimes music transcends crappy story-telling.


  1. Ah yes been there. Too many ideas too little glue to hold them together. It is a difficult and important lesson. Thanks for sharing DJ!

  2. I was going to be xanadu when I grew up, too. Then I watched the movie again a few years ago and wondered what I was thinking!
    I don't want to write a story that makes people feel like, "what was I thinking, reading this lame book?"
    so, thanks for the advice :)

  3. I missed out on the Xanadu experience, although I've picked up on the allusions over the years.

  4. DJ, do not be ashamed. My name is Linda, and I also love Xanadu. You make a good point about too much in the plot, but on the other hand, if a film is remembered fondly enough by the masses over 30 years later to inspire a Broadway play and even to be spoofed, that says a lot, right? The soundtrack is what makes it for me. "Whenever You're Away from Me" is my fave song. :)