Making a Play

So I’ve written two plays: the 10-minute “Warm Bodies” and the one-act play 20 August. That one was supposed to be two acts but it would have required a lot of padding to make it long enough and I didn’t want it to drag.

Prior to these two, I’d written scenes but never an entire play of any length. Except screenplays. I had done those and intend to do more.

So what drew me into to playwriting? Well, friends of mine asked me to try my hand at a short play for something their local community theatre was doing, a sort of directors’ workshop. “Warm Bodies” sprang from that. And I was rather pleased with the result, so I submitted “Warm Bodies” to a few other places–many of which I have yet to hear back from. But one theatre in London e-mailed me back and asked for a sample of something longer.

I had nothing longer. At least, not in terms of stage plays. SO . . . I wrote 20 August.

Apparently as far as plays go, I write on commission. Unpaid commission at that, but if something ends up produced, that wouldn’t be too terrible.

I used to be in a Shakespeare troupe, and I also did some acting in college, so at least I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the form. With my screenwriting background, and my understanding of the mechanics of a stage, I think I did all right. “Warm Bodies” has been submitted to eight different competitions now–and though it hasn’t been accepted anywhere yet, it hasn’t been rejected yet, either (though that’s just a matter of time, I’m sure)–and 20 August is being read in both London and Cardiff.

I never fancied myself a playwright, even though I have taught playwriting classes. Hmm. As Ophelia says: “We know what we are but know not what we may be.”

Priorities

Dear God, I need a . . . I don’t know . . . manager? More like a commander, actually. Someone to help me form a plan of attack for all these projects.

I’ve sent “Warm Bodies” out to several competitions, so we’ll see what kind of feedback I get on that. I’d like to get 20 August to a point where it can also be sent out. Originally I thought I was going to try lengthening it to a fuller two-act play, but now I’m thinking I might just reduce it to a one-act. I don’t want to pad it too much–and to make it long enough for a typical two-act it would need a quantity of padding–else it will lag.

And then there’s “The K-Pro,” which I did work on some more this past weekend in New York but didn’t get as far as I would have liked. I know where the story is going but I’m stuck in the details of getting it there.

And gods, I need to get this spec script done!

Ducks! Ducks? Come back here, ducks! I need a row of you, right here, right now!

Off to New York

In a few hours I’ll be on the train to NYC. I prefer the train to flying; I like forms of travel that provide me with scenery.

Staying in the Paramount at Times Square. I haven’t stayed in this particular hotel before, but it’s supposed to be very nice, so I’m excited to give it a go. Since I’m planning on spending most of my time in the room (writing), it’s important to me it be a nice one!

I do expect I’ll need to take breaks, though. To eat at least, and to find gifts for the kids because I’ll be taken to task if I return empty handed on Sunday. Also, I’ll want to go to the Lindt store and stock up on truffles because I like to eat those while I’m writing. They’re like sweet little rewards for my hard work.

For the most part I expect to be working on my “K-Pro” story, though I may also edit 20 August a bit. I’m thinking of reducing it to a one-act play. Once it’s ready I’ll be able to send it out to competitions and such. AND . . . I’m bringing the stuff for my spec script just in case I get the urge to work on it.

Here’s hoping for a productive weekend!

Tailspin

Seeing as work is the best way (for me at least) to soothe my sorrowful heart after a shower of rejections, I prepped some stuff for submission today and mailed it out. Even that much feels like a bit of progress. Of course, it may only yield more rejection . . . Vicious circle, this writing business.

I meant to do some actual writing, too, but had other errands to run. I’m glad, though, to have gotten some writing-related activities taken care of.

My son said to me today that he thought I’d be bored while he was at school. “You’ll do all your writing at once and then you won’t have anything to do!” I tried to explain that it doesn’t all happen at once, that most writing takes longer than a day. I’m not sure he believed me, though.

Having finished the draft of 20 August (my two-act play), I’m turning my attention once again to “The K-Pro.” And my scripts. And then at some point, when I feel enough time has lapsed, I’ll go edit 20 August . . . Did I mention the bit about the vicious circle? It’s rather like chasing one’s tail. But better to have too many projects than not enough. I hate dry spells. Would much prefer to stay busy, juiced up with ideas.

And so . . .

Another rejection today, this time for “Warm Bodies.” But they were nice about it, saying that it just didn’t fit in with the kinds of plays they publish. This publisher apparently focuses on the kinds of things kids do in school, and I can agree that “Warm Bodies” is a bit much for that crowd. However, I wish their website had been more clear about this, since it said they publish stuff for community theatres and such as well (which is exactly what I wrote “Warm Bodies” for). I will try it elsewhere.

It is difficult, though, not to get discouraged when it seems to be raining rejections. Some days I feel like I might never be successful on any front, no matter how hard I try.

Mixed Results

Well, on the up side I finished the first draft of my two-act play and sent it to the theatre in London that had asked to see something in longer form. They wanted to get a sense of my style, so I felt that even though it was a draft, it suited the purpose. Though of course I added a note that it was just a draft.

But on the down side . . . Another rejection for a couple of my short stories. Rejections are always difficult, and this one felt particularly harsh, not because they were mean about it per se but it was just the stark wording: “The piece is not for us. Best of luck with this.” Really? That’s the best you can do when letting someone down?

Here’s hoping the play does better for me.

And did you see that BBC Books is planning to do Sherlock books after all? Now how do I get my foot in that door, I wonder?

Sparkfest – Day 2

So my post earlier today was about the two big projects I’m currently working on. In keeping with Sparkfest, then, I’ll talk about what, well, sparked them.

The play came from a drive. Quite simply, I went over a bridge. I was thinking at the time that I needed an idea for this play, and I might’ve seen something about the lottery out of the corner of my eye? Somewhere in there, the first line of the play sprang to mind: “The day Lucky jumped off the bridge was the day he won the Lotto.”

The “K-Pro” story was something that simmered for a lot longer. I have a tendency to lie in bed and think a lot. Daydream, make up stories, whatever. But this story is an odd blend of personal experience–that is, time I’ve spent on film sets and with actors (one of the main characters is an actor), time spent abroad, and my own history. They do say write what you know. I’d probably add: but make it more interesting.

WIPs

I thought I might expand a bit more on my two current projects, which I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s Sparkfest post.

(1) The play I’m writing–this one is a full-length play–is about a man who jumps off a bridge. Sort of. Is any play ever really about what it pretends to be about? My previous playwriting effort, “Warm Bodies,” has been generally well received, so I hope this one will be too. I’ve dabbled in scene writing before, and I’ve even taught playwriting classes, so it’s funny that I never really tapped into that side of me for out-and-out writing. I only wrote “Warm Bodies” because someone asked for a 10-minute play for a directors’ workshop, and I thought, Well, it can’t be so different from screenwriting, so long as you keep it in your head that they can’t do quick cuts and will need time to change sets. Right? It probably helped that I do have a modest history in stage acting.

(2) The story I’m writing, which looks like it will be novella length before long, is called “The K-Pro.” It’s, uh, different from my usual thing. But not in a bad way. Can’t quite tell if it’s going to go the paranormal romance route or just be a kind of weird . . . thing.

And once I finish these two projects, I have a couple of actual screenwriting projects to get on with. “Something Real” is a romantic comedy, and I also have a TV spec script to sort out. When it rains, it pours! I’ll be off to NYC this weekend to devote some real time to all of this; it can be difficult to concentrate at home with the ins and outs of family.

Underground

Been underground for a bit working on this new story. Looks to be a novella, possibly in the paranormal romance genre. No wizardry kind of stuff, just the slightly surreal/magical realism kind of thing. Sort of in the vein of Sarah Allen Addison maybe.

So I had originally been planning to hammer out the television spec during my upcoming weekend in New York, but now I’m wondering if I won’t just keep on with this story. Not sure I could finish it, though. I could try, but I might actually get farther with the script, and it would feel good to have completed (or nearly completed) something. Decisions, decisions.

Update

So “Warm Bodies” has been sent off to two competitions and one potential publisher.

I’m working on a new short story and I’m really liking the way it’s coming along.

And in three weekends, I intend to spend my time in New York pounding out my television script. (Though Sherlock and I will also take time to see a bit of the city and get some pictures.)

So far August is shaping up to be a good month. Now if I could only shake this cold . . .