A few thoughts on craft #21
There are many ways to come up with characters, but I’m about to share with you my favourite way.
What is the basis of a dramatic character? Most writers will say that the character is wanting and failing to get something, and then does something about it.
So, one shortcut for getting inspiration for an amazing character is to look through the love-wanted classifieds or websites. Continue reading “How to Make a Character Quickly? Look for Love”
You’re writing a play. You’re half-finished. But you have a crazy job with a boss who calls you up at all times of day. And you’ve set aside a week of leave. Unpaid. Paid. You forgot to check. But you don’t care.
Because there’s your play. You have notes for all of your characters. You have a half-completed manuscript. You’ve lined up all your playwriting ducks. You sense a finish line. Your dreams focus upon horizons and flight.
You just have to finish off a couple of things at your ‘real’ job before you get back to your script. Continue reading “How to Finish Your Play if You Take a Holiday”
Back in my uni days, I once said to an English lecturer that I had a great idea for a story but that I just hadn’t finished it yet.
“Stop right there,” she said. “If you’re going to be a writer, remember this. An idea for a story only exists when it is finished. Everything else is a starting point.”
Let’s take, for today’s starting point, the concept of beginning with characters. Continue reading “You’re Being Annoying (a few thoughts #10)”
Andrew Bovell’s Platform Paper, Putting Words in their Mouths: the playwright and screenwriter at work, was published in August this year, and I’ve finally made the time to read it. Andrew is one of Australia’s finest dramatists, and is as generous, thoughtful and intelligent a person as you would hope to meet.
His essay on his work and his life at work reflects these qualities. There is so much to love in the 74 pages published by Currency House, but here are five of my responses. Continue reading “5 Things I Learned from Andrew Bovell’s Putting Words in Their Mouths”
Okay, there’s no easy way to improve apart from working at writing drama, but I’ll give you a few practical ideas in this post.
1. Concentrate on writing scenes, not lines or structure
First things first: great plays are made up of scenes, one great scene followed by another. Individual lines need not be wonderful examples of prose. Lines are there for actors to act rather than appreciate. Continue reading “Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Playwriting (a few thoughts #7)”
The spark for this week’s post was to discuss the importance of the ‘where’ of dramatic writing. What follows is my thoughts while meandering around the streets of my inner-city village, less instructional than previous posts. (For a terrific introduction to thinking about the ‘where’ of a scene and how to combine it with characters, story and a provocative image, check out the books in this post here, particularly those by Wright and Van Itallie.)
I started this post walking around my gentrifying neighbourhood. Where there used to be garages and places where mechanics worked there now lie pilates and yoga studios.
This is no accident. The body has now become our vehicle, the thing to be worked on rather than in; a thing that we can repair and display rather than feel is us.
read the rest
I used to be paranoid about the number of playwriting manuals I bought, borrowed and read. Now I’m vaguely proud of it, partly because of the help many have given me to think around as well as within playwriting craft.
Below is a growing and curated list (with amazon links) of the books I recommend that I think could unlock different parts of any playwright.
Continue reading “Write Your Play with the help of some recommended books”
Even strangers will tell you that doing something creative must be amazing. Writers can hear it often enough that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Not just to write amazing things but to feel amazing while doing it. If the brain surgeon and the removalist at the party said it must be amazing, then who are we to argue?
The problem with that is, that a lot of the act of writing feels joyless. When we deny this reality and encounter the mundane in the act, we want to. give up. We don’t finish.
Go on – finish this!
Recently a fellow theatre-maker (yes, you’re allowed to use that term if you’re not comfortable with calling yourself a playwright) got in touch with me because they’d hit a wall with the play they had started.
As with a mad love affair, the initial spark had consumed them. The first ideas were so exciting that they sat down and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And just when they thought they couldn’t write anymore, they did.
And then Monday dawned.
Continue reading “When the Thrill is Gone – (a few thoughts on playwriting craft #3)”