Tag Archives: Lazy Bee Scripts

Hot off the press!

TLC pose amongst denser heads......

One of my most popular posts in the last couple of months has been this one. Not because it rings bells or strikes chords with lots of people, but because it mentions lots of names. It’s the post where I included the full newsletter from Lazy Bee Scripts, The Buzz, because they’d just published “Merely Players“, my first full-length play.
Working at my new job has meant less writing at home, but nonetheless, the latest Buzz is out and it shows that I’ve had a new sketch published, alongside a collection of sketches from TLC Creative. Here’s the relevent paragraph:

Sketches & Very Short Plays

  • Not many new sketches this time – in fact, only Damian Trasler’s Vacuuming Sketch – but we’ve also published a new sketch collection in the form of An Hour You Won’t Get Back by TLC Creative (that’s Damian Trasler with David Lovesy and Steve Clark). This is a compilation of sketches with a total run time of, yes, around an hour – therefore enough material to form a complete sketch show (with the added advantage of a lower price than buying the sketches individually.)

I’m a little nervous about letting everyone in on The Vacuuming sketch – I have a feeling it tells you more about my private life than you ought to know… And I’m sorry for not including the full Buzz. It would have improved my page stats, but I felt sorry for the people searching for specific plays or authors and ending up on my blog, instead of at Lazy Bee, where they could actually buy the play they were looking for.

When I’m not making excuses about it, I’m a playwright, writing in particular for community theatre. A year ago I was travelling along a deserted country road, when a blinding light shone out and a heavenly voice boomed “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” before driving past me in a nippy sports car. Thanks to this experience, I felt led to write “Writing a play for community theatre”, and inspiring e-book available from the TLC Creative website at http://www.tlc-creative.co.uk, or from Lazy Bee Scripts at http://www.lazybeescripts.co.uk.

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Book! Book! Book!

A new publication by a familiar face.

Saying Richard James is an experienced actor is like saying Orson Welles got a bit tubby. Richard has performed on the Community stage, on the professional stage, on television and in feature films. Indeed, he can be seen in a film that recently picked up an Academy Award*. But that is not the end of his abilities, oh, no. As well as writing many excellent plays, Richard has put down what he’s learned as an actor into a neat e-book that is on sale now at Lazy Bee Scripts

If you’ve ever acted, or you want to act, or you want to direct some actors in any format at all, this book is worth reading. Richard knows his craft, and is both eloquent and down to earth about it. Don’t just take my word for it, go read the book!

Oh, and while you’re there, you might want to take a look at another e-book on sale. It’s just a little something about writing plays for the Community Stage. Some people have been quite pleased with it.

 

 

 

*The Wolf man. Look for him shouting ”Doctor Hoenegger! Doctor!” in the lecture room scene. Marvellous!

Taking my own advice

It’s an old cliche that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. It was one of the reasons I was nervous about handing out advice about writing plays. I knew how I wrote plays, but did that entitle me to tell other people? Fortunately, reading plays for Lazy Bee Scripts was a logical step, since I was just helping out administratively. Then I began to notice that there were some common errors in the scripts being rejected, things that seemed basic and obvious to me. If I could mention these things to the authors, they could make their plays better….

I bring up this ancient history because in this last week, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to take some advice that I hand out regularly. One of the best ways to find out if a play works is to take the draft script along to your local drama club and get it read. Note: A complete draft, folks. Make sure the story has a beginning, middle and end. I know there are playwrights out there, probably some great ones, who closet themselves with a tame theatre group and workshop a storyline, in some cases for years. That’s all well and good, but to my mind the result is a group effort, and if that playwright has any conscience at all, theirs won’t be the only name in the author position on the play cover. No, if this is YOUR idea, YOUR story, then get it written down, THEN take it to the drama club. Their job will be to tell you if the story hangs together, if the characters are real or cardboard, if it’s even interesting at all.

That last point was my greatest fear. My full length play that I began way back in January, has stalled and been re-ignited several times. I threw away the first ten pages and started again with a different central character. The basic idea remained, however, and I made it over the word count that I use to judge length in Script Apppraisals.

SMP Dramatic Society are a local group who welcomed Steve, David and myself to watch their rehearsals of Fawlty Towers back in September. They’ve performed a couple of our pantomimes, and they were eager to meet us. When I asked if they could help with a read-through, they readily accepted and so last Sunday I was welcomed to a member’s house, offered a warming drink and settled in to hear the play read.

It’s an odd feeling, because it’s rare the words are voiced as you heard them in your head, but the reading was very well done, with feeling, enthusiasm and a good deal of laughter. They pronounced the script workable, but had a list of suggestions which were all positive and worthwhile. As I’ve mentioned before, rewriting is a chore I haven’t enjoyed, but this process has made that easier, and I intend to have the new draft completed by New Year’s Day – from concept to complete inside a year!

I’m writing this entry on Christmas Eve morning – our friends in Australia have already begun to Celebrate Christmas Day, our friends in the UK are gearing up for The Night Before Christmas and our weasels are thinking about going skiing before the afternoon Nativity Play in Church. Wherever you are, whenever you’re reading this, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Book, book, book…..

It's the book what I wrote...So, only….er….five months after the initial idea, and I now have a published e-book to add to my credits. Actually, that’s not strictly true, as this is a document in pdf format, rather than an actual e-book, but you get the point.

Back in January, as I may have mentioned, I went along to a Writer’s symposium, hosted by the Travel Writer’s Association of Canada (TWAC. I was there as part of PWAC. Acronyms are silly things.) One of the speakers talked about the need to build up your webpresence and your own brand for your writing, which lead me to rediscover this blog, for one thing, and to begin writing the book. She’d said that everyone is an expert in something, expert enough to write a book. And while your book might not be compelling enough to attract a major publisher in the paper and ink industry, the glory of the internet is that you can publish without the stunning overheads and publicise your product yourself.

I realised that for over a decade I have been writing plays for the amateur stage – what the North Americans seem to call “Community Theatre” which sounds less patronising – and therefore I could legitimately say something about doing that. Plus, of course, I’ve spent the last few years as a script reader for Lazy Bee Scripts, reviewing new plays and handing out advice and judgements and assembling my own set of “What everybody gets wrong, or right” rules.

The speaker at the symposium made a lot of sense, saying that the book itself is not the major feature, but you can build on the sale of the book with lectures and classes. I didn’t want to get too overexcited about that, and decided to see if I could write a convincing book first. It’s taken longer than I thought, thanks mainly to the hard work of my friends and co-writers, ensuring I didn’t settle for the first draft, going that extra mile to produce a document that’s not only worth reading but enjoyable to look at. I’m painfully aware of the number of projects that languish at the “half-completed” stage, not because I’ve run out of enthusiasm for them, but because I’m scared I’ll wreck what I’ve got by pushing on. Two plays are stuck in that limbo right now. I was determined that the book would not go the same way, and this week the final draft (number three, I think…certainly the third version to make it to the pdf stage, anyway) has arrived and been hosted, both on the Lazy Bee Website (www.lazybeescripts.co.uk ) and on the TLC website (www.tlc-creative.co.uk) . We’re advertising the book on various websites, pushing out news of it through Facebook, and later this week I’ll be attending another PWAC event where I’ll finally get to tell the other members that I have acheived something they can actually see.

So, what’s the book about? It’s NOT a “How To” guide. I don’t lay out the best way to write your epic play, there aren’t any simple five-step programmes included that take you from your idea through to staging your masterwork. The book talks about the aspects of community theatre that make it ideal for first-time playwrights, the things that you should be aware of before you begin writing. It discusses the limitations of the local stages, and how you can get around them or work with them. It talks about the different types of writing you can do for the stage, it highlights common mistakes and other issues to avoid. Best of all, it has funny pictures with hilarious captions scattered throughout.

I’ve read it about half a dozen times now, and each time I feel it’s necessary to point out that I only supplied some of the words. The organisation, proofreading, graphical work, factchecking (and occasional buttkicking) have been done by my writing partners Steve and David at TLC and by Stuart at Lazy Bee. I hope other writers will find it useful. I really hope some people who might not have considered play writing will give it a go as a result, because I hadn’t thought of plays until I was asked to write one, and they really have changed my life for the better.

And if anyone’s interested, I am available for lecture tours…..

Hello, my name is Dim….

I was trying to remember earlier today if I’ve ever been called for a second interview for anything. I don’t think I have. My first few jobs were pretty much cut and dried in the first interview. One job I got seems a tremendous fluke now – the interviewer asked me where I saw myself in five years time. I said I wanted to be a novelist. Probably not the answer they were hoping for from someone interviewing for a post in their photocopy and archives room. Still, I held the job for nearly two years. The trouble is, you’ll have to take my word for that, since I don’t actually have a very good work record.

My first job was at the TVS (Television South) studios in Southampton. I worked there as Receptionist for the Programmes Department, and also delivered mail to and from the Programmes Dept. and the studios. Just as my year’s contract came to an end (and I was hoping to transfer to become assistant to the Assistant Floor Manager in the Studio) TVS lost their ITV franchise. The company split up and I was looking for work again. I spent time working in an off-licence (liquor store for you North Americans) but that was seasonal work. I found a job in a Solicitor’s office (the above-mentioned photocopy and archive clerk job). I stayed there for two years before going back to college for a year. Sadly, the office went on to electronic staff records in the late ’90s and my record was not one of those transferred. So, no reference from TVS, no reference from the solicitors. I spent a happy year at Portsmouth College of Art and Design, came out with a useless bit of paper and had to get another job. I took a temporary position as bar manager/receptionist at The Bell Hotel in Alresford. It lasted for two more years, during which time I got married. When I found myself a “proper” job with the Civil Service, I resigned from The Bell. I went away for the weekend, with a week’s time still to work, and when I came home I found the place had burned down. No reference from The Bell, then. Working for the Civil Service (joke: How many people work in the Civil Service? About half of them!) was great, since it meant I could be close to Mrs Dim as she guarded the peace-loving nations of the world from aggressive types, but Civil Servants work with the military, who are posted in and out of jobs, and by the time I gave up work to look after Eldest Weasel (then just a tiny weasel herself) I had already lost track of my first couple of bosses. Within a year, there was no hope of a personal reference from the Civil Service.

But please don’t think I stopped working just because I was now a full-time Weasel Wrangler. Oh no, I became a writer, and then an Editor. I edited the magazine of the RAF Families organisation, Airwaves. At first the magazine was called Corridors, but we changed the name when everyone finally agreed it was stupid. We changed it to “Airwaves”. Inspired or what? I took on more on behalf of the organisation, becoming an Airwaves Representative and Regional Manager. I went to meetings and wrote reports. Once I even went to the House of Lords and interviewed a Baroness. Oh yes. Can you guess what happens next? Well, there was a thing. All of a sudden all Airwaves Reps were told to stop doing anything. STOP! Someone hadn’t done something, or had done something they shouldn’t, and now there were legal ramifications of some awful extent, and the upshot was that Airwaves – the whole organisation – ceased to be. Shazam! Just like that. There is now the RAF Families Federation, but it’s run by a whole new group of people, none of whom know me. No reference from Airwaves.

Which pretty much brings me up to date. I joined the marvellous TLC Creative, working with Steve and David to Write the wrongs of society…heh heh heh! And I began doing some work for Lazy Bee Scripts, reading and reporting on script submissions. Both those businesses, I’m happy to say, are still around. Two references for me at least, and they must carry some weight because this Friday I shall be returning to the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer for a record THIRD interview, this time (I am assured) merely a formality, meeting the Store Manager. I’m sure you’re agog now. What position have I applied for that needs such a rigorous screening, so many searching interviews? Well, I’m going to be a Greeter. I will be standing by the door as you gracious folks enter the hallowed halls, and I’ll be happy to direct you to the aisle of your choice. Or choose one for you, if you’re up for a magical mystery tour of home hardware.

Hope to see you there.