Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be? by Author Lauren Mayhew
Writing a stage play is a lot harder than I initially thought it would be. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as it’s the complete opposite of writing a story. It’s all dialogue and no description. In my novels, the dialogue is probably the bit I struggle with most. So why am I writing a play, I hear you ask. Because I like to challenge myself. If you don’t challenge yourself, life gets a bit boring.
So, I’m writing a murder mystery set in modern times. Normally, I have a title before I even start writing, but not for this one. The title has evaded me so far. I usually use a line of text from the story itself as a title, but no-one has said anything yet that’s catchy enough. That’s a little worrying now that I think about it.
Obviously, it’s still the early days of draft 1, and I think there will be quite a few drafts of this one to make it worthy for the stage, but I’m enjoying it so far. I keep trying to compare it to other murder mystery plays that I’ve read, to see if it fits with their formatting, but I have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if it’s different. Different is good.
In ‘Murdered to Death’ by Peter Gordon, the first guests arrive on page 8, and the murder takes place on page 33. Inspector Pratt arrives on page 36.
In ‘A Murder is Announced’ by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon, the first guests arrive on page 20, and the murder takes place on page 35. Inspector Craddock arrives on page 38.
In my play, the first guests arrive on page 6, and the murder takes place on page 23. Inspector Dodds arrives on page 25.
As you can see, I have a lot of ‘filling out’ to do, but as of yet, I don’t have any clue what to add in. I don’t want to add dialogue purely for the sake of it, as the story has moved itself along quite nicely so far. However, I do want the play to be full length or around 80 pages. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen in its current state.
But, as I said earlier, I shouldn’t try and match it to the murder mysteries that I’ve read. There were definitely scenes in both of those that were extremely long and a little dull at times. This explains why the murder takes place later on in those plays than in mine. I have to start seeing my play as unique, and if I try to replicate others, it’ll just turn into the same old murder mystery.
As I said earlier, it’s still draft 1, so it all might change by the time it’s finished. I need to concentrate on getting it finished before I start worrying about adding or removing sections. I’m sure it’ll all come together in the end.
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This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.