Dramaquill's All Things Writing

January 15, 2018

What writing for the stage taught me about writing a novel

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 5:51 PM

For over twenty years I had to create original play scripts for drama students at my studio, Slightly off Broadway.  The drama program enrolled students as young as three years of age and included children, tweens, teens and adults.  Some of my characters included pirates, game show contestants, French chefs, hillbillies, ogres, wizards, aliens, scientists and the like.  

Writing for the stage taught me a lot about writing in general, but I was particularly amazed at how much it taught me when I began to write my first novel.

Dialogue  
Writing characters for the stage forced me to listen to speech patterns, accents, pacing and rhythm as well as habits, quirks and ticks. Stage characters use their words as their main form of communication and hearing those words come alive through the voice of the actor/character really helped me *hear* the characters in my novel. Writing what they said wasn’t about being grammatically correct or sounding like a poet, it was about having them speak in a way that made them real to the audience and to each other.

Action  
On stage, even when characters have lengthy conversations, they don’t just stand or sit in one place. How boring would that be for the audience? Perhaps they’re fixing dinner together while they talk, or walking through a park, or meeting on a subway. They’re real people. They’re alive. They move. Often their movements define their personalities but just as often the movements help propel the story along. Writing stage directions definitely helped me remember to keep things moving in my novel.

Characters
It can be easy to lose sight of your characters’ personalities when writing a novel, especially when plot and pacing are so important. On stage, the characters stand before you. You can visually see who they are as well as hear who they are through their dialogue. When I wrote my first suspense novel, I pictured them physically which helped develop their individual traits and voices. You don’t want to write characters that all sound and act the same. They need to be distinct and memorable.

Description
Novels rely on vivid descriptions to help the reader visualize where everything takes place. In plays, it’s the sets, props and costumes that bring the scenes to life. Again, I had to visualize what my environments would look like and then chose words that could communicate exactly what I was seeing to my readers. This was somewhat of a challenge for me at first because my audience (the readers) couldn’t see anything unless I was able to describe it properly for them.

Monologues belong on the stage  
It’s not unusual for characters in plays to spend several minutes on stage alone delivering a monologue. It’s a great way for a character to share their deepest emotions with you or move the story along by divulging information. Monologues work well on stage.  Big, long speeches do not work well on the page. Readers don’t want to wade through paragraphs of emotion and information. It definitely slows the action and it also just doesn’t make sense in the context of a book. So check your characters’ dialogue and make sure they aren’t *talking too much*.

Immediate reaction versus waiting for revues
Once the play is performed it’s easy to see if the audience gets the jokes and how they react to the characters and their situations. Applause is great for immediate feedback. Once your novel is written, it’s out there somewhere but you won’t be able to sit and watch each person read it and their reactions as they do. At best, if you’re lucky, they’ll post comments or reviews on the websites where they have purchased the books or email the author directly if they enjoyed the book. I’m somewhat prone to the immediate reaction of the theatre. 

So if you’re writing novels, why not try to write a scene or two as a play? You never know what it might add to your writing.

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January 4, 2018

It’s 2018 and I’m back

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 3:39 PM

wells-theatre-norfolk-virginian-seats-63328.jpegAfter a very long but necessary hiatus from this writing blog, I am back in full swing.  I hope all my readers have been busy writing, revising, promoting and getting their work out there.

2017 was a breaking point type of year for me. After 23 years of operating a very successful performing arts business, I decided that the 7 days/week workload and all the administrative duties associated with the *business* end of running my studio were slowly draining me of my creativity and my passion for creating.  So at the end of June, I closed my business.

I also needed a change of pace in my day-to-day life, so I bought a house in a town of approximately 1200 people and moved from the city of 110,000, where I lived my entire life, to this slightly isolated forest village.

What drew me to my new place of residence was the fact that there weren’t any creative arts programs offered here. I didn’t really pick my new town – it picked me.  And so far my lessons and classes have been a huge hit with the locals, as well as my more relaxed schedule. I’ve also met another published writer, several trained singers and an abundance of open, giving souls who have all made me feel extremely welcome.

In my former studio I was responsible for writing anywhere from 6-8 original plays and/or musicals for our drama department every school year.  Now that I no longer have all these classes, I have decided to edit and revise my scripts and submit them to play publishers in the hopes of sharing them with drama teachers and their students.

So for my first “all things writing” post, I am going to post some play publishing websites for those of you who may want to submit your own works or those who are looking for fresh material to perform.

So I name 2018 of this blog, “The Year of the Theatre”.

April 16, 2018

Being Published is not for the Faint of Heart

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 5:49 PM

As a first-time author, I could barely contain my excitement when I received an offer, and a contract, for my first book, “When Love Won’t Die”.  Red Rose Publishing offered to publish my book, first as an e-book and then, when sales were proven, as a paperback. I was elated. Fast forward two years into my contract and although sales were proven and promises to publish in paperback form were given, practically the opposite of that took place.

Red Rose Publishing skulked away from its authors in the dark of night without paying them all their owed royalties, myself included. The situation had all of us scrambling to remove our books from online sites. It was a very disappointing time.

Fast forward a few months and I received an offer from a new start-up company, Splice Publishing. They wanted to right the wrong of Red Rose and help get our books out in print. I was elated. I even got to keep my cover art since my cover artist was signing with Splice as well. 

Splice was a great company. They paid their royalties and they got my book out there in e-book and print form. 

Sadly, Splice publishing has decided to close. They sent me all my book files so that I can offer it online myself in Amazon Kindle. But other than the 13 paperback copies I have in my possession, readers can no longer order any version of my novel at the moment.

So here I go again – right back to the start.

Will I try to get an agent to represent me?   

Will I query new publishers?

What will become of my sequel?

Although I haven’t fully decided which direction I will take, I WILL take a direction and keep working toward having not one, but two published books out there..My book in PRINT 2.JPG

Like anything, if you really want it, you’ll have to work hard for it, but it’s definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

February 12, 2018

Writing a book: The Importance of Drafts

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 5:35 PM

As writers, we often seem more preoccupied with writing the perfect prose than getting the job done. A book is a huge undertaking and while many writers begin them, not everyone finishes their book.

The First Draft should simply be getting it down on paper. Don’t wrestle with the details, just get the story done from start to finish.

Now you can go back and fill in missing info which could include:

Characters’ names (especially secondary characters whose names you hadn’t even created during the first draft)

Locations and specific places (are they real places that need specific geographical specifics or are they created and don’t actually exist)

Information you have to research (like police procedures, courtroom or hospital)

Now you’re ready to submit this draft to your chosen readers for critiquing. (I belong to a critique group and find them an invaluable resource. I do not suggest using friends and relatives as your chosen readers.)

Once you’ve received their feedback, you’ll have to decide what to revise, thus creating yet another draft.

Finally, get someone to proofread your copy for grammar, punctuation, formatting etc. (Many self-published authors pay a professional for this service.)  At this point many authors also suggest doing a line by line edit as well.

Now your manuscript is ready to be submitted to publishers and/or agents, but remember to follow their unique submission guidelines to the letter.

January 4, 2018

Play publishers

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 3:53 PM

 

pexels-photo-574077.jpegHere are some of the more well-known sites for publishers of plays and musicals. Those who are accepting new scripts will have information under submissions or writers’ guidelines. Why not get your work from the page to the stage?

https://www.dramatists.com
Dramatists Play Service, one of the premier play-licensing and theatrical publishing agencies in the world, was formed in 1936 to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works

https://www.playscripts.com/about
Visitors can search for plays that fit their specific needs, read lengthy script samples for free, and buy books and performance rights, online with ease. Playscripts is also the creator of Findaplay.com, a free service for locating plays in the catalogs of all major play publishers.

http://www.samuelfrench.com
Headquartered in New York City, Samuel French, Inc. is the largest publisher of plays and musicals. Helping to make theatre happen since 1830

https://heartlandplays.com
Heartland Plays, Inc., a publisher of plays and drama products, features work for all stages including professional and stock theatre, community theatre, university and educational theatre as well as titles for teens and young audiences

https://www.pioneerdrama.com/Default.asp
How can we help you? Call us at 800-333-7262 • Home | Plays | Musicals | Texts, DVDs & Makeup | FAQ | Newsletters | Sitemap | About

https://www.hitplays.com
Theater play scripts for schools and community theater. Download our free script of the week. Genres: comedy, drama, musicals, ten minute plays, mystery, holiday

http://www.broadwayplaypub.com
Welcome to Broadway Play Publishing Inc There are currently 1,025 titles in the catalog

http://www.plays4theatre.com
Looking for play scripts? Search here for acting editions of over 800 Stage Plays – search by Length, Cast-Size and Genre. FREE evaulation copies

http://www.histage.com/
Eldridge Publishing, a leading play publisher since 1906, offers hundreds of full-length plays, one-acts, melodramas, holiday and religious plays, children’s theatre plays and musicals of all kinds

 

 

November 1, 2016

And the winner is…

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 12:16 PM

I am pleased to announce that Heather Norhaugen has won the free copy of my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”.

when-love-wont-die-432x648

On another note – watch for some exciting news coming soon!

October 4, 2016

Win a copy of When Love Won’t Die

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 1:37 PM

I enjoy October for many reasons:

Crisp morning air
Beautiful colors of turning leaves
Warm afternoon sun
Canadian Thanksgiving
Hallowe’en
and curling up with my favorite mystery/suspense books.

To win a copy of my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, write a ONE paragraph story opener beginning with this line:

Suzannah squinted through the darkness.

Winner will be selected on October 31st.

 

Getting back on the Horse

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 1:21 PM

It’s been many months since I posted. I thank those who still visited my blog site and checked out the scads of posts on *all things* writing.

But I do have the best reason for not keeping up with the blog – I was too busy writing.

I provide original play scripts for the Slightly off Broadway drama department and I have been writing up a storm. Last year, the studio did 6 different dramatic productions, all from my original scripts. Watching my words come to life and my characters become real with actors from ages six to sixteen is always such a thrill for me.

Besides play writing, I also finished the next-to-last revision of my second suspense novel, “Amorous Obsession”. Now, I just need to do some final tweaking and it will be ready for subbing out.

I also felt the call to get back into my ghost story type novel, “Dear Aunt Jane”, and currently have eleven chapters scripted out in rough form and submitted to my critique group.

Lastly, I planned out the characters and setting of my cozy mystery, “Quick, Pass the Chips”. With only a couple chapters into this one, I need to do some more research before I continue.

So…I apologize to my loyal followers for letting the blog slip into oblivion. I hope to be able to continue to provide you with lots of interesting info, tips and resources for “all things writing”.

January 2, 2016

The Cozy Mystery Genre

Last fall I had an idea for a quirky character, followed by some snippets of a plot.  Soon, I had an entire town sketched into my notebook and descriptions of a half dozen characters who lived there.  Thus began my foray into the cozy mystery genre with a book I’m thinking of calling, “Quick – pass the Chips”.

Also called Cozies, the Cozy Mystery is an offshoot of crime fiction and is usually a more lighthearted read.  With less emphasis on sex and violence, the plots contain elements of humor and the detective, or sleuth is often a woman.  (Remember the TV show, Murder She Wrote?  Think Jessica Fletcher, amateur sleuth and mystery writer, played by Angela Landsbury.  She’s an excellent example of the type of character one would find in a cozy mystery).

Recently, I received some books from author, Mary McHugh, about a group of 50-something tap dancing ladies who end up solving murders in the locales where they are performing.  We had connected years ago because, as a tap dancing adult, I was intrigued by her idea to have this group of dancing ladies as her sleuths.  Needless to say, I’m enjoying the books. (I will be interviewing Mary later this month for my blog so stay tuned).  The titles are:  “Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses”, “Cancans Croissants, and Caskets” and “Flanco, Flan, and Fatalities.”  The books are available at amazon.com.

For more information on the cozy mystery genre, check out these links:
http://www.cozy-mystery.com/definition-of-a-cozy-mystery.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cozy_mystery
http://www.cozy-mystery.com/
http://www.marymchugh.org/books.html

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2015

Top Five WORST Places to Write

Filed under: writer's block,Writing — dramaquill @ 3:09 PM
Tags: ,

It’s been a long time since I wrote my previous post.  Life got in the way.  What can I say!

Every writer has a favorite spot or two that they feel best helps them tap into their creative muse.  I love writing outdoors in a beautiful, quiet spot by a lake or inside a cozy room with soft lighting and a fireplace.  Sadly, it isn’t often that I am able to enjoy either scenario.  Most of my writing is done at my desk in my home office or at my place of business when I have a break from appointments.  And that’s okay.  I get a lot of work done in both of these places.

Not every spot, however, is conducive to feeding my creativity and churning out those much needed plays, books and articles.  These are what I would consider MY top five worst places to write:

  1.    In the house (when other people are home)
  2.    Starbucks   (always buzzing like a busy ant hill)
  3.    Mall food court  (but great for people watching for potential characters
  4.    Waiting rooms (either way too much distraction or way too quiet)
  5.    Church (Shouldn’t I be listening to the sermon?)

Please comment with your WORST writing places.

And just to set the record straight on this one – SUMMER is the worst time of year to write!

July 27, 2015

My Top Five BEST places to write

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 4:57 PM
Tags: , ,

Some people can write absolutely anywhere…

In the doctor’s waiting room
In line at the supermarket
At the kitchen counter while cooking dinner
At a noisy coffeeshop

You get the idea.

I’d like to say I was one of them, but I’m not.  I need comfortable, inspirational places that channel my creative energy.  I need room to spread out.  And most of all, I need my writing space to be free of distractions.

My Top Five BEST places to write:

5.   The front porch of my house (big windows – lots of light

4.   In my car at Mission Marsh (great scenery with minimal distractions)

3.   Outside on my deck (when weather conditions are just right – not too hot – not too windy)

2.   My home office/desk (when no one else is home)

1.   My bedroom (the twinkle lights that surround the ceiling have to be on)

Where are your BEST places to write?

May 31, 2015

Writing to get published

What kind of writer are you?

Does everything you write have to get published for you to feel like you’re a writer?

Do you ever just write because you have a brain overflowing with ideas?

I think (and this is just my opinion) that if you write solely for the purpose of getting those words published, you may be in for a disappointing time.  I’ve written some fine sentences – maybe even some fine paragraphs that will likely never make it to an editor’s desk.  Sometimes, you just have to be willing to write it and let it go.

But that doesn’t make you less of a writer, now does it?

I truly believe the best writers are those who write consistently…all the time.  They won’t see every single word they’ve ever put to paper come to life in the form of a book, short story, article or essay.  But they will have known the satisfaction of getting those words down and creating a body of work that is meaningful.

Lots of great writing never gets published.  How saf, though, if because of that, it was never written.

What kind of writer are you?

May 7, 2015

Do you need to work on your time management?

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:40 PM
Tags: , , ,

The complaint is always the same:  I don’t have time to write.

Inspirational religious speaker, Joyce Meyer, has a great saying that she uses when she hears people say they don’t have time to study their bibles.  To paraphrase Joyce, basically she tells her listeners that they each have twenty-four hours every day – just the same as everybody else.

When you look at it that way, and you see what others are accomplishing, then technically you DO have the time to write.  But what if you really don’t seem to be able to find the time?

Perhaps a few simple time management skills will help.

  • 1. Set a specific time to write.  Could be first thing in the morning…in your car in the parking lot at work at lunch…before you go to bed…while you are waiting at an appointment…while dinner is cooking.  Schedule it in like everything else in your day.
  • 2. Set a time frame for your writing.  Even if you can only carve out fifteen minutes, five times per week, that would be seventy-five minutes of writing time each and every week.
  • 3. Decide on a writing goal for each session.  Even just a couple of paragraphs is better than no writing at all.
  • 4. Pick the easiest method for the location.  I use a variety including the notebook in my purse, my iPhone’s notes app, my laptop at home, my iPad upstairs.  I have even been known to scribble down some dialogue or plot ideas on the back of a program during intermission at a concert or on a paper bag from a fast food chain.
  • 5. Don’t let the internet or phone calls interrupt you for those fifteen minutes.  If you have to, disconnect from the internet and let your voice mail answer your calls.

Ask yourself this question the next time you start bemoaning your lack of time – How badly do I want it?

If the idea of not writing causes you more stress than the notion that you don’t have time, then you WILL find a way.  If not, perhaps you should leave the writing to those who cannot live without getting those words onto paper.

March 11, 2015

Writing Prompts: Writer’s Block Beware

Writing prompts are great when you need a kick start to get you writing again.  Don’t concern yourself with whether or not you’ll craft a new full manuscript – just have fun!

Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing”

1.      She burst into the room, surprising…

2.      The last number was about to be drawn.  Robert held his lottery ticket as tightly as he held his breath.

3.      Laughter erupted from behind the office door.

4.      A pair of eyes blinked from behind the crack in the rickety old wooden fence.

5.      A trumpet blared.  Thunderous applause filled the auditorium.  The curtain opened and…

Here are some articles and sites with a wide variety of prompts.  What are you waiting for?  Writer’s Block beware!

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-creative-writing-prompts-to-spark-your-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/

http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/instant-online-writing-prompts/

February 10, 2015

Who is your favorite suspense novelist?

Part of learning to write well is reading good books by successful authors in your genre.

Here’s a list of some of the top writers who create suspense to keep you flipping pages well into the night.  Who’s your favorite?

Mary Higgins Clark     http://www.maryhigginsclark.com/

Nora Roberts  http://www.noraroberts.com/

Dean R Koontz  http://www.deankoontz.com/

Stephen King  http://stephenking.com/

James Patterson  http://www.jamespatterson.com/

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