Sunday, September 7, 2014

How to write a play

Update:  In 2014, I won the right to have my short play staged. Here I document the journey--including what I learned from this experience.

photos by Leanne Dyck

The MayneNews blog announced the Mayne Island Little Theater's Play Writing Contest 

Members of the community were invited to submit a one-act play with an island theme. Characters were limited to three and props were to be minimal. 

I didn't know what I could enter but I knew I had to find something. 

I'd just finished milking all the 'thriller' out of a thriller to transform it into a literary novella. So I should be able to write a play, I told myself.

Aware of the deadline, I sat down to write something new but nothing was as good as that novella. 

The novella was set on an island. Could transform it into a play? 

I searched the novella looking for the perfect part. It had to involve no more than three characters, have strong dialogue and action. 

I re-read the rules. Minimal to no props, I read. I took this information seriously and thought creatively. Chairs can be a ferry bench or a car. Gosh, you're brilliant, Leanne. 

But what was I going to do with all the internal dialogue. A friend pointed out that much can be conveyed by facial expressions and gestures. And I knew she was right. But I also knew that it wouldn't be enough for the type of internal drama I wanted to build. I can let my characters talk to the audience. And once again I told myself I was brilliant. 

My pen flew and soon I'd finished writing my play. Worried that I was too dazzled by my own brilliance I sought out feedback and brought the play to my writing group. Other members were working on submissions.  So we workshopped our plays. This resulted in one of the most enjoyable meetings we've had. I received lots of helpful feedback. My play was further strengthened when I shared it with my husband. 

"This doesn't make sense... What does this mean?... Why did you include this?..." He was very helpful--I'm not kidding, he was.

Feeling confident that I was sending my best work, I clicked send on July 24th (about three weeks before the deadline). 

My tips on writing a play...

1)fall in love with the story

2)vital ingredients:  strong dialogue and action

3)if you are writing your play for a contest, closely follow the rules

4)once you've finished writing your play, gather feedback
-ask friends to dramatize it

5)two ways to convey internal dialogue on stage:  by letting your characters talk to the audience or through facial expressions. Pick what works for you.

Sharing my author journey...

What made this week special?

Tuesday evening I played Rock Band with my husband. The last son in our set was Viva La Vida by Coldplay. I love that song. Early (and I mean early) Wednesday morning I was inspired to write an approximately 200 words strong. I shared what I'd written with my husband. 

He said, "I like it (high praise from him) but I don't think it's complete."

My reaction, "Not complete. What do you mean it's not complete?" --predictable, right?

We played Rock Band, again, that evening--ending with Viva La Vida by Coldplay, because I can't get enough of a good thing.

Thursday morning I woke with the rest of the strong leaking out of my pen. The story is now approximately 500 words.

I can't wait to get my writers' group reaction and feedback.

**Pump in inspiration--pump out story**


letscutthecrap said...

You are a delight to read. Good LUCK with the play. Hope you hear soon. <3

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Thank you for your kind comment and wishes. Rumour has it that we'll hear by the end of this week--or was it by the end of this month?

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne — "And once again I told myself I was brilliant."

Amen siSTAR! I love it; absolutely love it! :)

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Ah, thank you, Laurie.

And when I was on my walk this morning I thought of another way one could convey thought on stage--voice over.

Laurie Buchanan said...

SUPER EXCITING update news — Whoohoo!

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Thank you, Laurie. I'm glad I had you to share it with.