Dramaquill's All Things Writing

December 31, 2014

Resolutions or Goals?

According to several online sources, it seems that approximately 40-45% of folks make new year’s resolutions.  Sadly, it’s also reported that approximately 60% fail at keeping them.

As a writer, do you make resolutions?

Several years back, the moderator of my online critique group challenged the members to submit their writing and writing related goals for the coming year.  As a member of the group, at first I struggled a little.  What was the difference between a goal and a resolution?

What I discovered was that my goals were quite specific and focused:

  • Revise the last five chapters of my novel and submit it to my critique group next month.
  • Draft a query letter and send it to (insert name of publisher here) the week my critique group goes over my chapters.
  • By the end of January, finish the second act of the play that my drama group will be performing in the spring.
  • Pick three agents from my list of potential agencies to query.

Everything was quite specific.

Had I made a list of resolutions I fear they would have been very similar to those made by many who fail to see them through:

  • Write more everyday
  • Read more books
  • Start or keep a journal
  • Pick your platform
  • Join a writing group

These are all very respectable but since they aren’t as specific (no deadlines or set amounts) that it’s much easier for them to fail.

So this year, are you going to make a list of resolutions or are you going to set some writing goals?

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December 8, 2014

I didn’t finish Nanowrimo – am I a failure?

First of all, congratulations to all those writers who conquered and won the Nanowrimo 50,000 word challenge.  I salute you!

I chose a WIP (“Summer at Birch Beach”) this year.  I had about two thirds of it written in a very rough draft.  I thought I would use Nano to not only finish the rough draft but also begin working on an amazing revision.  After the month was up, I would have a new manuscript to shop around.  Needless to say, after about a week, and 8859 words, my Nano writing got detailed.

Since I didn’t finish Nano, am I a failure?  If you didn’t finish, are you?

Let’s look at what I did accomplish during November:

  • Secured a contract with a new publisher for my suspense novel, “When Love Won’t Die”
  • Finished the second act of a full length melodrama play for my acting class
  • Wrote lyrics, music and accompaniment for two original songs for the melodrama
  • Started final revisions on my sequel, “Amorous Obsession”
  • Wrote a synopsis for the back of the print version of my book
  • Wrote a query letter for my sequel

I may not have managed the 50,000 word goal on “Summer at Birch Beach” but I wrote every day.  The melodrama script had to be finished by December 1st so the students could begin learning their lines, blocking scenes and singing new songs.  I had to do a small revision for my new publisher so that I could get my book up before Christmas.  And now that my suspense novel is available again, that inspired me to work on the sequel.

So…I did NOT win Nanowrimo.

But I did win the writing battle.

If you didn’t complete the 50,000 word journey of Nanowrimo this year, you aren’t a failure.  Just signing up and giving it a try deserves a high five.  You did write.  You do have a word count.  Now…keep going!  It will pay off.

To purchase “When Love Won’t Die” in ebook Kindle format OR in print, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Wont-Jacqueline-McMahon/dp/1987854012/ref=asap_B0056TVHO8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418047723&sr=1-1

April 29, 2011

Your play: published or produced?

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As the resident playwright for Slightly off Broadway triple threat studio, I create 6-8 new scripts every school year.  There was a time when I believed that I really hadn’t done justice to my plays unless I managed to get them published or in an anthology collection.

As the years went by, I realized that the greatest pleasure I get from writing my plays and musicals is watching them unfold during the rehearsal process and then seeing the final product up on the stage during the performances.  After all, plays are meant to be seen and heard, not just read.  This is what makes plays different from all other forms of fiction writing.

I know several playwrights who have developed their own publishing companies solely for the purpose of self-publishing their plays.  That way, they don’t have to share royalties when they sell copies to schools and drama clubs. 

Over the years I’ve ordered sample copies of plays from several different publishers.  Some produce a fine product but many others create an amateur looking cardstock cover folded over and stapled to the printed sheets.  I can make copies that look better by doing it myself.  Also, if I have them published with someone else, then I have to share revenue on each sale.  So I understand why so many playwrights choose to create their own company and their own product.

But for me, publication isn’t the forerunner for my plays.  It’s the productions that I crave.  Besides the Slightly off Broadway performances, I have sold copies of my plays to school drama clubs and organizers of summer drama camps.  Knowing that something I have created can be shared with performers and audiences all over the globe is far more satisfying to me than having my play listed in a catalogue.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to be listed with the likes of someone like Samuel French – who wouldn’t? 

So how do I get the word out that I have plays available?

I advertise on the Slightly off Broadway website.  I read ezines and forums that pertain to playwriting.  I talk to teachers who are looking for new material.  I do my own networking.

Am I getting rich selling copies of my plays for productions?

Nope.

Am I satisfied knowing that every single one I have written to date has had at least one production?

Absolutely.

Publication or Production…you decide.

http://www.slightlyoffbroadway.com

http://www.samuelfrench.com

http://www.stageplays.com

February 5, 2008

Howdy y’all – Developing a character

I’s a takin’ a break from writin’ a hillbilly play fer our drama class.  Ifn I’s a talkin’ funny, it’s a cuz I’s bin a writin’ in hillbilly speak fer daze an’ daze.

All kidding aside, using a dialect can add a whole new flavor to a character but writing it can be a tough job.  I spent a lot of time researching hillbilly expressions, names, activities and anything else I could find before tackling this type of character.

But, due to the success of last year’s hillbilly play, and the way the class responds to the silly humor and antics of hillbillies, it was time to write a sequel of sorts. 

As a reader, I’m not always excited to read a character who speaks with some unique dialect.  I can imagine that I’m not the only one who finds this type of read slower than if the character didn’t speak in such a way.

The neat part about writing a play that utilizes characters who speak in dialect is that it’s not a “sit-down” read at all.  Yes, I have to read through the dialogue to make sure the characters have their own personalities and of course when I’m checking for typos etc.  But the fun part is listening to the students as they begin to master the hillbilly dialect.  And of course, the finished product is always a crowd pleaser once the audience gets to come and watch.

So how do you feel about dialects as a writer?  Ever try a character like that?

How about as a reader?  Do you prefer to read straight English without the flavor of dialect?

No matter what you do as a writer, just remember that in order to create believable, 3 dimensional characters, they must possess qualities that remind the reader of real people.  Whether it’s an expression they use, or mannerisms they possess, or a personality trait that always seems to get them in trouble, make sure your characters come alive on the page.

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