31 December, 2008

"Twelve tips for aspiring playwrights"

The Guardian:

"None of the tips I picked up was hugely revelatory, but they were plenty of motivational ideas. My time at the Royal Court was, if nothing else, a kick up the bum: a reminder that nobody else is going to sit down and write my play if I don't.

Those playwriting tips in full:

• People tell stories all the time. Look for them and you'll soon start spotting them everywhere, from newspapers to snatches of overheard conversation.

• Ask yourself what your story is. You could try summarising it in a sentence or two and sticking it by your desk, so you can keep it in mind.

• Get into the habit of writing. If you're short on time, try writing little but often.

• Overwrite, then cut. (Don't reveal in the first scene that Oedipus is sleeping with his mother.)

• Women tend to write subconsciously, men tend to plan more. Do whatever works for you.

• Give your main character obstacles to overcome. He/she should have changed by the end of the play, if only fractionally.

• What are your characters' wants and objectives? These might change from scene to scene.

• Make your characters extraordinary or larger than life in some way.

• Think about the subtext of your dialogue and remember that people often don't say what they want to say - or say the opposite of what they think.

• You might find it useful to "hot seat" your characters. Assume the identity of one of your characters and get someone to ask you questions about yourself.

• Read your play out loud to yourself.

• Don't send your script out immediately. Put it in a drawer for a week or two, then have another look at it and ask yourself whether you're sure it's finished."

Article in full

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