Dramaquill's All Things Writing

October 19, 2013

The Best Way to Revise Your Play’s Dialogue

I just finished a wonderful day of teaching drama to three classes of kids between the ages of six and sixteen.  Watching them take on the characteristics of different characters and the emotions of the words on the pages of my original scripts made me stop and realize how much of a part these students play in my final rewrites of all of my scripts.

To me, nothing works better for revising/tweaking dialogue than hearing it spoken aloud by an actor.  Not only can I see where my wording might be difficult to say but I can also immediately hear any inconsistencies in my characters’ expressions, and I can see whether or not my dialogue really differentiates my characters from one another.

Whether you get a group of friends together to read through your script or you find a community theatre group willing to help you out, I believe that hearing your words, rather than reading them, is the best way for a playwright to revise the dialogue of any play.

Check out this really cool Theatre Lab program:   https://www.sundance.org/programs/theatre-lab/

I’m off to go tweak some of my characters’ lines now – how ’bout you?

 

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November 9, 2012

Green Room Scripts and Selling Your Plays

Yesterday I got an email from Green Room Scripts. I hadn’t heard of their site but their email intrigued me so I checked it out.

They publish playscripts that are very affordable for community groups and drama companies who just don’t have the money to mount productions with big royalty fees. From what I saw on the site, most shows have a royalty of $20.00/performance. As a drama teacher, I found their e-script plan very appealing.

They also allow authors of plays to self-publish with them. (I have not worked with them so please check out all their terms and conditions carefully if you decide to submit your plays).

The site says that they are a place “where people can publish, buy or sell content related to the arts and performing arts.”

Check them out and see if they have something to offer that appeals to you and your needs.

Another option for getting your plays into the hands of directors and performers is to offer scripts on your website – you DO have a website, right?
I have sold scripts to summer programs and small drama groups. They are easy to print up and bind using cardstock for title page and back page. Be creative making your own script copies.

Read published scripts for disclaimer sheets and decide which terms and conditions you wish to apply to your scripts.

Now…back to Nano.

September 22, 2008

Where to get your play published

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In my spare time, when I’m not teaching music and drama, revising my adult suspense novel or writing new plays for our drama classes, I’m always looking at opportunities to get my plays published.

I’ve written a couple of articles about different aspects of playwriting. Watch for my “The Business of Playwriting”, coming out in Writer’s Digest’s newest market book, “The Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market, 2009”, available at amazon.com, amazon.ca and chapters indigo:

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/The-Screenwriters-and-Playwrights-Market-Chuck-Sambuchino/9781582975528-item.html

Here are some great links I want to share. Just remember to thoroughly research any potential publisher and always follow their guidelines to the letter when submitting your work.

For women playwrights, this is a great resource site:
http://www.womenplaywrights.org

International Centre for Women Playwrights

To me, this company is synonymous with plays but beware, they only take the BEST!
http://www.samuelfrench.com/store/play_submission.php
Samuel French

For women playwrights, screenwriters and artists, check out this site and sign up for the fabulous newsletters. You won’t be sorry.
http://www.womenarts.org/fund/EmailNewsletterSign-Up.htm
The Fund for Women Artists

Not sure how to submit to this one but check out their website for more info:
http://www.broadwayplaypubl.com/
Broadway Play Publishing Inc.

Another BIG company:
http://www.dramatists.com/
Dramatists Play Services

Lots of plays for children accepted here:
http://www.pioneerdrama.com/
Pioneer Drama Service Inc.

This one takes all the usual types of plays but also has a large religious play section:
http://www.bakersplays.com/store/play_submission.php?osCsid=b33b43de923a133328df9f5cf7a4460d
Baker’s Plays

Here’s another tradition publisher of plays:
http://www.playscripts.com/about
Playscripts Inc.

This one takes all sorts of plays except musicals:
http://www.brookpub.com/Submission_Guidelines.php
Brooklyn Publishers

And just a few other resources:

Drama Geeks – a place where you can download lots of different plays by
masters like Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde
http://www.dramageeks.com/

And for those budding screenwriters, check out Drews Script-o-rama for downloadable movie and TV scripts:
http://www.script-o-rama.com/snazzy/dircut.html

If you’re going to contact one of the bigger, well-known companies, it isn’t likely that you’ll even get them to take a look unless your play has a proven track record of productions. Often you’ll have to submit a program and general history of ticket sales etc.

My advice: As with any publishing endeavour, try the smaller presses first. We all have to get our start somewhere, right?

May 5, 2008

Writing plays for kids

One of the perks of owning my own performing arts studio is getting to write original playscripts for our acting classes. 

With all the great plays out there you may be asking yourself, “Why go to all that work?”

I admit that I have utilized many fine resources as fodder for our acting kids.  There are tons of books out there with monologues, scenes, small playlets, one acts, full lengths, musicals, etc. etc. etc. 

But the trouble with using most of these for classwork is that it’s tough to find a play with exactly the right amount of girl/boy roles and numbers of performers registered in every class.  Our mandate has always been to let each child create a role, eliminating anyone from being a townsperson or one of the chorus.

Now I’m sure if we could afford to buy up every available script for all of our different age ranges, we could find something appropriate every semester.  But, with limited funds for such a vast library and ever changing class sizes, the writer in me decided to venture into the world of playwriting.

After all, when I was a child, I spent many a summer day creating scenerios to play with my friends and took it upon myself to cast parts, improvise lines, direct everyone and even act in some scenes myself.  So, somewhere along the road it was inevitable that I would desire to try my hand at playwriting.

The response to these original scripts has been fantastic and the children delight in giving input into subject matter and even plot features.  By writing the parts after meeting the individuals, I’m introduced to some great personality traits that I can use to develop my characters.

And the best perk of all is that I’ve managed to sell some of my playscripts to drama clubs, drama departments and children’s theatres.

The biggest challenge though is the time frame in which I have to produce the scripts.  The final registration is the day before the class begins, then I have exactly two weeks to work with the kids, get my ideas and draft a play that they will enjoy.  Now, multiply this by three different age levels having three different semesters/school year and I’m cranking out nine original playscripts between September and June.  So even in this challenge comes a perk:  I’m great with deadlines.

So far, my pirate musical, my hillbilly plays and my murder mystery have been the most popular but with each new semester and each new set of ideas, who knows what I’ll come up with next.

 

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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