Tag Archives: playwright

The Latest Scripts from Lazy Bee : Sept 2016

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The latest round of scripts published by Lazy Bee Scripts have been gathered together in their regular newsletter (The Buzz). I’ve taken that list and some of  the other notices and put them here for your edification. All the scripts can be found by searching the title or author at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk  and it’s always worth checking out “What’s New” on the website.

Plays for Schools and Youth Theatre

Our latest publication for children (covering a range of ages) are:-

  • Peter Yates dispels a few Nordic myths while providing some real historical insight in his school piece The Vikings (9M, 3F)
  • The Seven Wonders (17M, 4F) by Nicholas Richards is an accessible and educational school play, that teaches not only history but also the power of books, and their ability to educate and inspire.
  • Roger Hurn’s new plays are ideal for school assemblies.  Thor’s Hammer (7M, 1F) is based on a traditional Scandinavian folk story, and Joseph And The Truth Stick (2M, 0F) provides a cautionary tale from ancient Egypt.
  • Face2Face (15M, 9F), Helen Spencer’s school ensemble piece is designed for Key Stage 2 pupils, with the theme of bullying at its core, though has many humorous TV-themed interludes.  Sam is a delightful child – happy, smiley and kind to others.  Well, at least that’s the impression she gives to grown-ups.  When her parents aren’t looking, or the teachers’ backs are turned, Sam reveals her true personality.
  • Gerry Murphy’s single setting piece The Three Wishes (7M, 3F) tells the cautionary tale of an impoverished peasant who makes a Faustian pact with Lucifer.
  • Young people come of age in the high school drama Behind Their Eyes (8M, 7F).  The play is a poignant dramatisation of the real life stories and experiences witnessed by the author Taylor Seymour.

 

Musicals and Musical Plays

Shows with a significant musical element – original songs or song suggestions.

  • Sarah Archer’s comedy drama Dearly Beloved (1M, 3F) features an original song and the opportunity for two others, and sees three very different people trapped in a mysterious room.  The trio must work together to find the answers that will set them free.
  • More amateur dramatics chaos in Cheryl Barrett’s comedy Free For Hall, as a double booking in the village hall leads to a tense stand-off.  There is potential for two song and dance routines.
  • Trinity Road School Reunion by Dawn Cairns is a full length musical with suggested songs.  A class comes back together years after school has finished, for a 70s night at a local pub.  New romances awaken, and old ones are remembered.  Some have changed quite dramatically, but the old bully is still the same.
  • And while we’re here, I should mention Ruth, Graham W Evans’s musical telling of the bible story.  We published this some time ago, but we have, at long last, added Graham’s CD of backing tracks for the show.
    We’ve also belatedly added vocal demos for a couple of children’s shows: A Musical Mother Goose by Gerald P.  Murphy and Minny Pinny Makes a Difference by Stuart Ardern.

 

Full-Length Plays

We are sponsoring the writing competition for full-length plays run by Bread & Roses Theatre.  (Submissions close on September 30.)  They are seeking plays with a majority of female roles (which is a good thing, reflecting the make-up of many theatre companies).  More information on their web site.  We look forward to reading the winning entries, meanwhile, our latest publications are:-

  • Ethan Bortman’s Obvious Guilt (4M, 3F) has been remastered with a British setting.  Nigel’s wife has gone missing and her mother is determined to involve the police.  As time goes by, things look blacker for Nigel, but he protests his innocence to the last.
  • A vivid historical drama on the life and loves of Byron, Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know (2M, 4F) is told largely from the female perspective, written by Jim and Bronwyn Jameson.
  • Play Safe (6M, 5F) from Paul Rudelhoff & Jane Hilliard is a full length farce set in a home for retired entertainers.  Trouble brews as two rookie criminals break in, with the intention of stealing the combination to a safe.
  • Lee Stewart’s Legacy (3M, 2F) centres around a dysfunctional family attending the reading of Uncle John’s will.  The provisos within lead the characters to in-fighting and nefarious scheming in a bid to get their hands on the inheritance.
  • Greeting Cards (2M, 2F), Frank Flynn’s comedy drama centres around two roommates.  Robbie is out of work, having suffered a stroke, while Max struggles to care for him.  Two women, Mandy and Max’s sister Gertie provide the catalyst for life saving changes for the pair.  There are three possible endings to choose from in Robert Scott’s The Amateur Killer (3M, 4F), a murder mystery drama centring around a local amateur dramatics society.  Director Daniel is letting his personal history with Lucas affect their relationship as he directs the production of Adieu, but it’s his knowledge of Lucas’ affair with Natalie that will lead to murder.
  • Two spirits ponder the manner of their death in Herb Hasler’s A Haunted Haunting (8M, 7F).  Confusions arise in this full length comedy, as medium Mona summons a host of oddball spirits to find the answer.
  • To Shut The Mouth Of Lions (4M, 2F) is a powerful drama from Dave Clark.  William’s wilful refusal to acknowledge his son’s lifestyle choice leads to a Christmas confrontation with his family.
  • Take five ladies of varying backgrounds and put them in the rest room at an exercise class.  They talk about their lives, their hopes and fears openly and unashamedly. Add into the mix a young, single, male fitness instructor and see what happens in Geoff Fulford’s Exercise In Discretion (2M, 5F)

 

Sketches, Skits and Short Plays

Mainly sketches, this time, but also a couple of short plays.  All running to less than 20 minutes.

  • Two Yorkshiremen share anniversary gift ideas and other worldly wisdom in Cheryl Barrett‘s Silver-Tongued
  • The mercurial minds at TLC Creative have gifted us with a menagerie of new skits, the settings of which range from boardrooms to safari parks.  These offerings come from David Lovesy with occasional help from Brian Two, and one contribution from Damian Trasler: The Business Meeting (2M 1F), Soul Bargain (2M), Imagine You Are A Tree (2 Either), The Wonders Of Science (2M), Is This A Sketch? (2 Either), The Earthquake Drill (1F, 2 Either), Shyfari (2M, 1 Either), and A Day At A Spa Resort (2M)
  • I Will Pass My Jeans On from Patricia G is a short but sweet piece.  Two sisters sort through some old clothes for the charity shop while their mother watches on.
  • Three new contributions from Robert Scott give equally humorous, sharp and absurd takes on the worlds of art critique, classical music and Hollywood film: Joan: The Movie (2 Either), For The Love Of Art (3M), and Symphony Dreadful (1M, 2 Either)
  • Philistines and experts face off in Herb Hasler’s Art’s Gallery.  (2M 1F)
  • Olivia Arieti adapts a Mary E.  Wilkins story in The Mayor’s Christmas Masquerade (5M, 7F)
  • The customer is always right, although in Peter Keel’s Book City they can sometimes struggle with the finer points.  (1M, 2 Either)
  • Tony Domaille’s spoof detective noir Rick Risk P.I. sees the title character embark on an amusingly cliché ridden roller coaster, meeting the glamorous Somer Field on the way.  (1M, 1F)
  • A case of mistaken identity leads to A Blind Date in Rollin Jewett’s short comedy play.  (2M, 1F)
  • Just A Bus Driver, Susan Middaugh’s ten minute drama, sees the title character confronted with a gun wielding passenger.  (2M)

 

Pantomimes

Here we have some traditional panto themes, along with a smattering of unusual subjects, mainly for family audiences (but one show that definitely isn’t).

  • Sharon Hulm’s collection of panto-themed sketches Behind You! features an interview with a genie, the characters of Robin Hood trying their hand at speed dating, and a piratey job interview.  More fairytale worlds collide in Goldie Locks And Some Other Guys, Sharon’s latest full length offering, where Goldie, jewel thief extraordinaire, is pursued by three hungry bears.
  • Cinderessex by Barry Smith is most definitely not suitable for family viewing.  Fairy Nuff’s magic allows Cinderessex to attend an exclusive party at The Glass Slipper club, owned by millionaire England footballer Jack Charming.  Only until midnight, that is.
  • Richard Coleman gives us a rhyming masterclass in Chaos In Wonderland, where Alice teams up with Jack to overthrow the Queen of Hearts.
  • Andrew O’Leary’s Rapunzel is our fourth published adaptation.  When the wicked fairy Gothel is stripped of her powers, they are accidentally transferred to the hair of baby princess Rapunzel.  Years later a brave boy sets out to find her and bring her home
  • Cleopatra Kicks Some Asp is a fun packed Ancient Egyptian-themed offering from Jonathan Goodson.  The evil Avaricia and her ugly sisters try to cheat young Cleo out of the Mighty Jewel of the Pharaohs.
  • Our second Ali Baba panto (others have Ali Baba and something else in the title, usually thieves) is set in a Cairo bakery – Will Fatima Baba’s flatcakes ever get the seal of approval from Pharaoh Rosher?  (Authors Bob Heather and Cheryl Barrett will donate a percentage of their royalties to charity.)
  • Suzan Holder gives us a a revised re-telling of Cinderella, our Version 6.  An updated rags-to-riches – via a pumpkin – story.
  • Aladdin has been given the girl’s school treatment by Rachel Harries.  This panto is designed for an all female cast, though can easily be adapted to suit a mixed bag.  Evil villainesses and magic lamps abound in our tenth Aladdin adaptation.
  • Dame Patsy’s pasty factory is under threat in The Parrots Of Penzance, Peter Yates’ eclectic offering.  The race to capture two valuable giant Peruvian parrots descends into pantomime fun.
  • Bottoms Up!  – The Panto by Hilary Ayshford sees pantomime meet Shakespeare, as A Midsummer Night’s Dream is retold with a healthy mix of modern day humour and eloquent quips.

 

One-Act Plays

We estimate run times from the number of words.  (There’s a post about this on the Beewaxing blog entitled ‘How Long is a Piece of Theatre?’) By our calculations, all these plays have run times of between 20 minutes and an hour.  The upper boundary may be of concern to groups planning competition entries (because usually there’s an upper limit of 50 or 55 minutes).  This concerned Tony Frier in particular, as his play would make a good festival piece but is possibly on the long side (though your production may well run at a faster pace).  In any case, Tony’s production notes say that he is amenable to cuts to meet festival limits.

  • Scott Kingsnorth gives us the remarkable Palindrome (1M, 4F), a dystopian drama with a unique narrative.  Ladies (2F), on the other hand gives us a more identifiable tale of post-wedding-party blues.
  • The true story of Donnie Merrett is superbly adapted to the stage in Tony Frier’s powerful drama As The Clock Struck Ten (6M, 4F).  At the age of 17, Merrett shoots his mother after she discovers he had been forging cheques in her name.  Joining the navy reserve upon release from prison, he soon returns to a life of crime and debauchery.  After fleeing the military and narrowly escaping court martial he heads back to London where he continues to demand money to fund his habits.
  • Our Little Secret (2M, 1F) is Rollin Jewett’s award winning comic drama.  Darlene’s evening in is interrupted by an armed intruder, and an unlikely relationship develops between the pair.
  • Geoff Rose-Michael’s latest thrillers are three different tales of drama and deceit – the dire consequences of cheating a driving exam in The Test (1M, 1F), a sinister cover-up in When You’re Dead (3M 2F), and an armed robbery that isn’t as it seems in Innocent Witness (2M, 2F).
  • Window Pain (3M, 4F) is a bitter-sweet comedy from Patricia G.  Brenda thinks she knows all her neighbour’s secrets from the comfort of her window.  The residents of her neighbourhood, however, have their own stories to tell, and they are stark contrasts to Brenda’s preconceived ideas.
  • An American and an English couple squabble in Rosemary Frisino Toohey’s drama Fish Have Feelings Too (3M, 3F).  Eventually the couples’ children diffuse the situation give them something else to think about
  • Matters Arising (4M, 1F) by Richard Moore features a routine will-reading gone awry, unveiling the web of deceit in the secret lives of the beneficiaries.
  • An obsession with ancestry and a desire to claim the inheritance of an obscure relative are the driving points of American Dreaming (5M, 5F), David Pemberton’s comedy drama.

 

Murder Mysteries

There are three new interactive murder mysteries in the latest crop.  Time for your audience to get out their magnifying glasses and work out whodunnit…

  • Downtown Crabbey is a period mystery by Joanne Mercer, set in 1900 in a London hotel trying to cater for American tourists.  The impending arrival of a hotel inspector has caused a panic in the dining room and, worst of all, a fork has gone missing.
  • Nostalgia for a different period from Debi Irene Wahl in The Monster Mashed – a mystery for a small cast of comedy horror characters, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure.
  • Richard Adams presents a detective-led mystery in Mystic Myrtle which starts with a visit to a fortune teller and leads into an intricate tale where all of the characters have motives for doing one another in.  So the first mystery is who goes first.

 

 

New Web Site Features

Pick a number (not quite any number)

If you buy a performance set of scripts from us, we used to define that as one Producer’s Copy and a fixed number of Cast Copies. Now we’ve changed that so that the customer can choose the number of Cast Copies.  Normally, at this point, you’d be given a sales pitch about why more Cast Copies would be useful to you.  Of course I’m going to do that, but I’ll also tell you why you might want fewer (the cheaper option).
With some scripts, particularly large cast productions, it’s possible to have one actor playing multiple roles.  If you know you’re going to do that, then you can pick the number of Cast Copies you need.  (There is a lower limit, which is the feasible minimum cast size.)
On the other hand, you might want additional copies for members of a chorus, for prompt and stage crew and to give to competition judges. In that case you can add as many Cast Copies as you need.
(The same function also makes it possible to order multiple Review copies.)

Buy a collection, perform a script

We have a small number of “collections” – sets of scripts, generally sketches or short pieces, grouped by theme and bundled together (at a discount over the sum of the individual parts).  Occasionally, customers want to buy the collection but perform just some of the component scripts.  Our web site will now recognise this automatically and grant performance rights for individual scripts that were bought as part of a collection.

Get an up-to-date catalogue

We’ve moved the Catalogue (or Catalog, if you prefer the US spelling) into the [Browse] menu.  We’ve also updated so that the catalogue is generated when you click the button, so you instantly get a PDF which includes the latest publications.

Build your own catalogue

The point of the catalogue is to be printable (so that you can hand a copy round).  The problem with a catalogue is that it contains a lot of things that you don’t want mixed in with the things you might want.  The Lazy Bee Scripts search engine gives results that are closer to what you are looking for, but it’s more difficult to print.  Aha!  There’s now a button which enables you to create a PDF of your search results.

PDF Receipts

We have, for a while now, had a feature whereby you can generate a receipt for a paid order via the [Customers] menu.
We’ve extended that so that the receipts (and invoices, for orders for which you have yet to pay) are generated as PDFs – which look better and are easier to print.
This is particularly useful for customers who pay by card but want a receipt in their own currency (as long as it’s Euro or US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollars).  The customer’s currency part of the receipt will be approximate – because we charge in pounds and the customer’s card provider does the conversion into local currency, so we never see the exchange rate – but for most purposes it will be close enough.

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Gallery

Waiting for Twist Stiffly – RPI Players

This gallery contains 7 photos.

I was delighted to get a Tweet from the RPI Players this week, telling me they had completed their run of “Waiting for Twist Stiffly” and enjoyed the play very much. They had the very talented Demetrius Green (photographybydegrees.com/) on … Continue reading

Inspired by Hemingway – My new play

That title’s a little misleading. My new play is called “For sale – Baby Shoes – Never Worn”, not “Inspired by Hemingway”. Look, maybe I should just tell the story I’ve been telling everyone about this. Whether it’s true or not…I don’t really want to know. This is what I heard:

Hemingway was dining with Dorothy Parker and her infamous Vicious Circle. Naturally they talked about writing and at some point Hemingway asserted it was possible to write a compelling story in only six words. Challenged to prove it, he grabbed a napkin and scribbled  “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn” and won the bet.

Hemingway is figure who towers in the mental landscape of writers. Many idolize him, ascribing almost mythic powers to him. I didn’t take much to the stories that he wrote, except (if it’s true) for this one. Those six words both tell the story and send your mind scurrying to fill in the other parts – whose was the baby, why did it never wear the shoes? Was there ever a baby? Who bought the shoes, and why must they be sold on? I have certainly spent more time thinking about those six words and all they imply than I have about the rest of Hemingway’s output.

It struck me one day that it would be neat to take the idea at the heart of those words – a dream lost, let’s say – and make a triptych of plays on that theme. Each one would take two words as the title, and the three plays performed together would make up the whole story, as well as carrying the theme. I even wondered who might write such a play. Seriously, it was a day and a half before I realised it might well be me.

The production I’ve written is not as ambitious as Hemingway’s short story. It could be performed by two actors, one male, one female. Staging could be minimal, with mainly hand props and black backdrop. Each actor would play the same character in two of the plays and another character in a third play.

Published for the first time on the 29th May 2013, the play is available through Lazy Bee Scripts. You can read the whole thing online for free, or pay a small fee to download it. I haven’t run it through with any groups here, so I don’t have any pictures of it yet – I’d love to hear from someone willing to stage the World Premiere. Let me know at dtrasler3@gmail.com if you have a production planned, or you’d like more information.

Later edit: This play HAS now been performed: By Kilmuckridge Drama Group. I borrowed the pictures of their performance from their Facebook page and added them to my gallery. They got the staging spot on.

When is writing right?

Recently I’ve been receiving some inspirational blog posts through my email. They’re from a writer who takes a very hard line about the business. I’m not going to quote this person directly, or make reference to their website, but the upshot is that they believe that being a writer, if you’re doing it properly, is the centre of your life. That anything else needs to take second place to putting your words down on…well, paper, screen, whatever you use.

From a certain point of view, I can agree with that. If you’re using your skill as a storyteller to write fiction for sale, or your ability to create interesting features to generate income from magazines, then yes, it’s a business. Like any business, you need to take it seriously and put in the effort it deserves. If you do the washing and ironing, then clear away the dishes and do the grocery shopping before you can start the day’s writing, you’re already behind. I get that.

Where it gets problematical (although I think that’s a made-up word) is that not everybody is in that position. I’m inspired by the example of James Moran, who wrote the feature films “Severance” and ‘Cockneys vs Zombies”. He held down a full-time job, but still wrote over twenty drafts of his first script because getting it exactly right and as good as he could was essential to realising his dream of being a screenwriter. He mentions in his blog that he would come in from work and start writing, he would write at weekends and at night because this was what he wanted.

Our favourite excuse, as writers, for NOT writing is : “I don’t have time”. Very few of the many, many writers in the world have writing as a full-time employment – by which I mean, the only thing they have to do during their work day. I’m luckier than a lot of people – my wife has a good job, and I only have to get the kids to school, then keep the house clean and running until they get back. The rest of my time can be spent writing. Except that the writing doesn’t directly add to the household income, so I actively pursue work that isn’t writing during the time I have FOR writing so that I can earn enough to allow me to remain at home and….not…write. Which brings me back to those emails.

There’s enough guilt in my life, thanks. I feel guilty that I can’t spend more time with my children. They have volunteer readers in their classes, they have adult volunteers on their field trips. I’m rarely involved with any of that. My house could do with more care and attention, but that would take some research and skills that take time to develop. My dog should have two walks every day, not just some days. My friends back in the UK should hear from me when things are ok, as well as when I’m grumpy, and my parents would probably like an actual letter to go with the emails. Maybe my family would appreciate me learning another meal to add to the seven I know how to cook. So, while I agree with the thrust of these emails – “If you’re a writer, then you should be WRITING! Writing is the most important thing in your day, don’t be ashamed of it!” I will still put family first. I know that means I probably won’t rise to the top of my profession, that I won’t outsell J.K. Rowling (and, given that I’m a playwright, that’s not surprising) but that’s a choice I’m making.

The sour grapes side of me wants to point out that the individual sending me these emails doesn’t have kids, and is “returning to the writing business”. They make their living as a writer by telling other people how to be a writer and working as a “Social Media Writer” for a large company. I don’t know what a Social Media Writer is. It might be a person who writes about Social Media, or it might be a person who writes about that large company ON social media. I don’t know. Either way, it’s not my place to judge their worth in telling ME how to be a better writer. Like I said, the core of their message is fair enough. Whether I want to take that advice to heart is up to me.

So here’s what I say about when to write. Write what you want to write, when you want to write. Write stuff you love writing, stuff you like to read. Write the stories that unroll in your head and drive you to your desk because they won’t lie still till they’re pinned to the page. Write because you have to.

You’ll be a writer because you write. If you want to be a rich writer, or to earn any money from writing, well…Then you need the discipline, the time and probably the guilt so that you FIND the time, no matter what else is going on in your life.

Disclaimer: Despite this appearing on the internet and probably leaving enough clues for a determined researcher, this post is not an attack on the person who is sending out the emails mentioned. They are entirely entitled to do what they’re doing, and I admire their standpoint even if I’m not standing there myself. If I really get upset by the emails, I have the option to remove myself from the mailing list and will do so if it becomes necessary. If anyone wishes to rush to the defence of this individual, please do so with courtesy and good spelling. If the individual feels persecuted and wishes me to retract any or all of the above post, I’d be happy to discuss it via email.

My Guest Post on Novel Publicity .com!

This week I’ve had the honour of being guest blogger on the Novel Publicity Website. Novel Publicity can help authors with Design, Editing and, of course, publicity. Check out their website for a full description of the services they offer, or find them on Facebook and G+. Or, take a minute to read

MY FIVE TIPS ON WRITING FOR THE STAGE

The Theatre.* In many ways it seems as mysterious and closed a world as that of top-flight novelists. Yet writing a play isn’t something that needs to be left to serious types in cardigans who smoke pipes, or flouncy ruffled-shirt-wearing Theatrical Major students with angry diatribes about INSERT CURRENT TOPIC HERE.

YOU can write a play. Here’s a secret: it’s not hard. You may not be the next Chekhov, or the next Pinter, but so what? Some people go to the theatre to be entertained, and there’s nothing wrong with writing a play that’s entertaining rather than challenging or a searing indictment of this, that, or the other.

So what are the top five things you need to know about writing for the stage?

1. It’s drama. If your script is about two guys in a room arguing about their college theses, then you need to find a way to get some movement, some action into the situation. There’s nothing wrong with a single location, but you have to remember that you don’t have close ups or flashbacks or cutaways to rely on, like they do in TV programs. You need to give the audience something to WATCH as well as something to listen to.

2. Location, location, location. Think your story through and do an outline. Then look at it and imagine how it can be presented on stage. Changing locations is certainly possible, but if you present a potential director with a way of accomplishing the location change, they are more likely to buy and produce your play. For example, if you want a couple to start an argument in the kitchen and continue it in the bedroom, can you have a split set, with one half of the stage being the bedroom and the other half the kitchen? If you then have to move to the wife’s office, can the bedroom set be changed while the couple are back in the kitchen? Set changes can be tough, and most audiences won’t sit in blackout for longer than thirty seconds. Try using scenes in front of the curtain to cover a full set change behind the curtain.

3. Consider your actors. A play I wrote got sent back to the drawing board because I hadn’t realized I’d put the leading actor onstage for every single scene. Writing for Community Theatre, like I do, it’s best to give actors some time off the stage to catch their breath, glance over their lines, have a break. Equally, don’t expect them to breeze offstage in a wedding gown and return thirty seconds later in a business suit. They’re actors, not Clark Kent in a phone booth.

4. Have a read through. Plays are all about dialogue, and there’s no better way to check if your characters sound like real people than having real people read your words. Read-throughs can be great fun, as long as you check your ego at the door. Remember, you’re listening for errors, so don’t cringe when you find them–make a note! And listen to people’s opinions of the play too. They can tell you if the character they were reading has nothing to do in the second act, or if they felt that the plot has a hole. You don’t have to accommodate everyone’s idea in the next draft (unless you’re writing a commissioned piece, which is a whole other can o’ worms…) so you have nothing to lose by listening and thinking about what you hear.

5. Join a local theatre group. Yes, you may prefer writing to treading the boards, but I’m going to wave the old adage ‘Write what you know.” It’s a tricky phrase, as I’m sure you already know, but in this case it can be very helpful. Writing a play can be enormously liberating. You can accomplish all kinds of things on the stage, but the only way to find out what is possible is to be involved in plays. Going out to the theatre is a good start, but it can be expensive. If you join a local theatre group there are several advantages: They’ll be pathetically pleased to see you. You can ask questions about plays they have already performed and what made them good choices. You get a stock of people who can read through your work. You get a stock of people who can PERFORM your work. Your new group may even be willing to take one of your scripts to a one-act play competition, which could provide you with an AWARD to brag about. It happened to me.

So, those are my tips. The big secret is that writing plays is easier than writing a novel. When your protagonist is going to the drinks cabinet for a scotch, you don’t have to write:

“Tired from the constant battles with Cynthia over the custody of their pet otter, Alex slunk to the drinks cabinet and poured three fingers of dark, aromatic scotch into the crystal glass his Grandmother had left him.”

In your play, you just write “ALEX goes to the drinks cabinet and gets a scotch.”
See how easy that was?

Yes, there are formats you should use, but like any writing, that’s down to research. Make sure your character names are consistent, put a brief set description at the opening of each scene and note any exits or entrances your characters make. Once you’ve finished writing, add a cast list to the head of the piece so a prospective director knows how many people of which gender they’ll need to produce the play. You’ll be well on your way.

About this post’s author:

Damian Trasler has been a published and award-winning playwright for ten years, working mostly with TLC Creative (www.tlc-creative.co.uk ) and published through Lazy Bee Scripts (www.lazybeescripts.co.uk). He runs a Script Appraisal Service in conjunction with Lazy Bee and more theatrical musings can be found on his blog, www.dtrasler.com. He also raises three daughters while his wife has a proper job.

*I’m an Englishman living in Canada, so the “r” and the “e” are going that way round. Deal with it.

E-publishing – playing the Amazon Self-Publishing game

My latest publication. Which sounds much grander than it is. Get it while it's FREE, folks!

In my last post, I looked at the books I had on my kindle and mentioned whether or not the free offer had given any extra incentive to make further purchases. Following that post, it was only logical that I should jump into the publishing pool myself.

Though I’ve been a playwright for over a decade, I did put in a lot of time writing short fiction (and long fiction. Long, long, tedious, boring fiction, as it turns out) and I sold a couple of my short stories. A couple more won competitions and some ended up in anthologies. None of them made me rich, obviously. But those successes still left a huge…what, heap? Pile? Herd? Of stories, lying around on my hard drive. One that stuck out was a Sci-Fi short I had written in four episodes. It was a for a competition run by a coffee company, who wanted four-part fiction to print on their coffee tins, so people would buy new tins for the continued story. Maybe the coffee wasn’t that good?

Whatever the reason, I didn’t get the job, but my four-part story was written. It was a “Flash Gordon” style, Golden Age of Sci-Fi piece of fluff, but I liked it. I liked it so much that I went back to the story years later and wrote a play about a group of people who were working on the film version of the story. It’s called “Waiting for Twist Stiffly” and people have bought and performed it. If you’re one of them, let me know and send some pictures!

The cover for "Twist Stiffly". Yeah, yeah, I know. It's awful.

So I dug out the story “Twist Stiffly and the Hounds of Zenit Emoga”. I followed the KDP guidelines on formatting (ridiculously easy, fortunately) and I cobbled together a cover (harder than formatting, and a much less satisfactory result.) And then I published it. The entire process took about the same length of time as it takes to write a blog post, except at the end, I had a product on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.Fr….It’s crazy.

That week seems to have been a watershed week for authors, or maybe I just have a lot of writers in my G+ streams. There were dozens of books being put out on free trial offers, and I didn’t want to dump something as low-rent as Twist Stiffly in with these genuine novels. So I put it out for $2 and warned people it was really bad. Naturally, a couple of friends bought it out of curiosity, and some of my G+ acquaintances bought it. I’m grateful, but also apologetic. To make up for it, I collected together some of the short stories I wrote for Ladies’ magazines years ago and worked a little harder on the cover (It still looks terrible, but shows I worked hard. I simply don’t have the gift.) Now Coffee Time Tales is on sale for $0.99, but I am running the free offer for the weekend of 17th Feb to Monday the 20th.

Am I expecting to get rich? Not from these books. I have a vague idea of spinning off maybe two other volumes of Coffee Time Tales, and a Science Fiction Shorts special, all at $0.99, but they’re not going to be money spinners. I’m publishing these stories because they still make me smile, and it seems a shame to leave them mouldering on my computer when they might make SOMEONE ELSE smile.

In the meantime, I’ll stay a playwright, and work on my screenplay. And buy more lottery tickets.

Have you tried the self-pub route? Are you rich yet? Are you too nervous to try? Do you want a step by step guide to getting your text into e-print? Seriously, folks, the publishing is the EASY part. The difficult bit is getting anyone but your parents to buy it.

Don’t give up the day job!

Mark Niel - Poet, Writer....Wordslinger!

That’s the advice you’ll hear most often when you tell people you’re a writer, and to be fair, it’s good advice. Writing is, as my friend Lucy V Hay pointed out today, a gamble – there’s no pension attached.

But giving up the day job is just what Mark Niel has done. You can find his blog – Pawhouse Boy – in the blogroll at the side of the page, and that’ll describe him and his endeavours better than I could. Mark is a poet, and a very successful one. He’s won awards, seen off other dedicated wordsmiths at slam poetry events up and down the UK. There’s very little I can say that will convey my utter respect for that ability, let alone the faith that allows him to make the jump from mainstream employment to freelance writer.

As a playwright, I like to think I choose my words, but in reality, they rush out. I think in paragraphs, hear waterfalls of dialogue. To put it another way, when I turn out my script, I’m not facing my audience, I’m hunkered in my bunker behind a .50Cal manuscript, battering the audience with a stream of words, hoping one or two will penetrate and be enough to knock ‘em dead.

The poet, particularly the Slam Poet, picks their words with care. They are the gunslingers of the writing world. The wordslingers. They use their ammo sparingly, making each word count, finding the target again and again with a scary precision.

If you don’t believe me, see Mark in action here. Try not to be deceived by the apparent simplicity of the words – think about the time and effort it took to assemble each line, to make it fit the meter and subject and the signature refrain. Poetry is hardcore. Respect!