Merry Christmas – or was it better than that? (a few thoughts #19) 

I hope that whatever festivity you celebrate at this time of year, you enjoyed it.

If you didn’t, however, don’t worry too much, for you’ve probably gathered material for a play or screenplay.

One thing that is sometimes unclear when we ask “when” a play happens, is that we’re probably asking about the occasion.

The occasion of a scene can be a great dramatic writing tool, because the characters who participate will have both shared and personal expectations of how the event should proceed.

If everything, including what doesn’t work well, goes to everybody’s plan, then it’s not really that dramatic.

But if this is the first year that Darren’s mock turkey doesn’t make Nanna gag, then the reactions will be interesting to witness. 

Ask of any occasion that is the basis of a scene, who will make it go wrong? What or who will upset the expectations? How will it upset them and why?

Lots of plays centre upon social occasions or rituals. Weddings. Funerals. Birthdays. This is why. They are full of people’s hopes and dreads.

But it’s not enough to ask what the occasion is.

Go a step farther and ask, what’s the problem? What’s new? What’s different this time?

So, I hope you had a great Christmas.

But if you didn’t, I hope you have been taking lots of notes.

Have a wonderful 2018, and I hope you achieve your writing goals. If you need my assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me at

But not exactly right now – I’m trying to set a blazing fire to the Boxing Day pudding to help lift me over a writing block, while providing misery to expectant children.