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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June 10, 2013

Thanks for the Inspiration, Tony Awards

Last night I watched the 2013 Tony Awards and was more inspired than ever before by the talent displayed in the three hour broadcast. I’ve always been a sucker for the musicals and live theatre. It doesn’t surprise me that celebrity performers feel something completely different after their first role in a live production.

As I watched all the fabulous musical numbers, appreciating everything that goes into making them so spectacular, I immediately began thinking about all the drama classes I will be offering at my studio in the fall and the infinite number of possibilities for scripts.

As any book author will tell you, read a lot of books if you want to write books. Well I think the same applies to playwrights. Watch live theatre and you’ll be inspired to create live theatre.

So today I’ve drafted out a plan for characters and plot for a full length play script and I’ve explored some ideas for a couple of one acts as well.

Writers have to spend time alone to get the words down on paper but nothing stimulates creativity more than being around the creativity of others.

Thanks for the inspiration, Tony Awards.

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

January 25, 2009

Writer’s Digest Market Books

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I’ve always been a fan of the Writer’s Digest market books.  Usually, I buy the big one with all genres, “The Writer’s Market” book and the CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market” book). 

But for those of you who might not be familiar with the wide variety of market books published by Writer’s Digest books, I’d like to provide a list of them below and  a link to the website.  Books are available at major book retailers as well as online at amazon.com.

2009 Writer’s Market

2009 Writer’s Market DELUXE version

2009 Guide to Literary Agents

2009 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market

2009 Novel and Short Story Writers

2009 Poet’s Market

Writer’s Market Companion

2009 Songwriter’s Market

2009 Photographer’s Market

2009 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market

2009 Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market
***contains my article “Getting Serious with Playwriting”.

Check them all out at:

http://www.fwbookstore.com/category/market-books

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.

 

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