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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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

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

How can we help you? Call us at 800-333-7262 • Home | Plays | Musicals | Texts, DVDs & Makeup | FAQ | Newsletters | Sitemap | About

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

Welcome to Broadway Play Publishing Inc There are currently 1,025 titles in the catalog

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

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



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”.

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