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Work! The Writing Lessons of Hamilton

image by Eli Christman
image by Eli Christman

Most of us, whatever we write, don’t write massive Broadway musicals about early American history featuring an ethnically diverse cast capable of imparting our stories in soaring melodies, stunning harmonies, and astonishingly complex verses of rap.

As far as I know, the only person doing that is Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer of the incredible Broadway smash “Hamilton.”

However! No matter what we write, there are lessons to be learned from other people’s writing, across genre and form. So I thought we might take a quick look at “Hamilton” and talk about three possible lessons from the text, and how we might consider incorporating them into our own work.

The caveat here is that I haven’t seen “Hamilton” (and given the ticket prices and availability issues, I’m not likely to.) But in a way, that’s the best way to come at this. I’m working from the words and music, without visuals. (Except, I have to admit, I’ve watched this video [1] of the three actors who have played King George lip-synching to “The Schuyler Sisters” approximately 183 times – and those are probably not the visuals Lin-Manuel Miranda really had in mind.)


Three things “Hamilton” does that you might try in your own writing:

Q: What other lessons have you taken from a work you really enjoyed, not necessarily in your chosen genre or form?

About Greer Macallister [2]

Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist. Her plays have been performed at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was an Indie Next pick, Target Book Club selection, and a USA Today bestseller, and has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain's Freckle Films. Her next novel is GIRL IN DISGUISE, about America's first female private investigator, Kate Warne (Sourcebooks, March 2017.)