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Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be?

Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be? by Author Lauren Mayhew

Play Writing - How Hard Can It Be - Young Adult Author RendezvousWriting 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.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out his books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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The Importance of Telling Stories

 

Written by
Cammie Conn

Most of my friends/family/acquaintances know that when I’m not trapped in a good book or typing away at a keyboard, I’m onstage. Acting, like literature, is one of the many things that keeps me waking up in the morning. While the two are vastly different art forms in most respects, my love for them boils down to one thing: a love of storytelling. A passion for words. A compassion for humanity. The more I’ve read and written books and performed from scripts, I began to realize how intertwined theatre/films and novels are. I fell in love with reading as a small child, when I discovered that books could transport me to new and wonderful worlds. The same can be said of performing, after I was cast in my first show and began to watch theatre/film performances in earnest. What I so love about these art forms is that they convey everyday, human emotions that most of us don’t even like to admit that we have. Reading and watching performances provides for an emotional catharsis that we as human beings need in order to live healthfully. While enjoying art has many benefits, I find even more enjoyment in creating it. As a young person, it can be very daunting trying to find my place in the world; deciding which path to take, where I want to go, why I want to go there. But I’ve always believed that, no matter what happens, I want to change the world through art. Affecting other people’s lives for the better, while doing what I love … I can think of no higher calling. It always brings me such unspeakable happiness when I watch someone’s passion unfold after reading/viewing a story. It’s happened to me, when I read beautiful books that forever change my outlook on life. And I’ve seen it happen to others. Once, my school’s theatre department took a small field trip to a nearby professional theater that was hosting a well-reviewed performance of “Lés Misèrables”. We all had our tickets clutched in hand, bumping around on the dark school bus, eager to watch the show. Once we arrived at the venue and started filing off, one of our theatre teachers noticed that the bus driver — a burly, straight-faced man — was still sitting at the wheel, alone. He hadn’t a ticket to get into the show. Luckily, my theatre teacher had an extra ticket and offered it to the man, who accepted it gratefully. As the night wore on, we watched the production, which was beautifully performed and emotionally electrified. (For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Lés Misèrables, I HIGHLY recommend it!) The basic plot is about a prisoner during the French Revolution, who was locked up for nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister’s son. During the course of the show, the prisoner realizes that he can redeem his past by overcoming the hardships that life throws his way and making the right decision always, even if it places his family in danger. In the end, he dies a righteous man. When the show was complete, we stood, wiped the tears from our eyes, and made our way back to the school bus. On her way out, our teacher passed the bus driver. He was still sitting in one of the seats, and tears were rolling down his cheeks as he shook with sobs. I think of this moment every time that I start to doubt my ability to write or perform or tell a story of any kind. Art is not something that helps us live: it’s what we live for. It’s in our very nature to create and enjoy other creations. Stories are meant to be told. Stories NEED to be told, for your sake and for the sake of people like that bus driver.

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