Tag Archives: writing plays

New Sketches on Lazy Bee Scripts

Lazy Bee LogoLike New York, it sometimes seems that my Publisher Lazy Bee Scripts never sleeps. It’s been a busy few weeks, with a whole bunch of scripts that I sent in coming to light online. Normally I wait for the Lazy Bee Scripts Newsletter – The Buzz – to come out, and paste it in this blog, but today I thought I would blow my own trumpet a little.

TLC Creative, of which I have the honour to be one third (and occasionally a quarter, since we have a new collaborator these days) has been on a creative kick after two years of resting on our laurels. Although we haven’t produced a new pantomime (yet!) we have been writing sketches and some one-act plays. Most of the sketches are appearing first, with the two plays coming soon. They’ll probably get their own blog post, especially as one ties in with an e-book I have already published.

So, here’s a list of the sketches available NOW and links to their online location so you can read them INSTANTLY and FOR FREE (and then Tweet about them in ALL CAPS!)

Finding Miranda

Miranda’s not happy being Miranda, and she wants to go and find herself.

School for Fashion

Learn how to Fashion, now that it’s a verb, with Lapita.

The Uncomfortable Announcer

Don’t let your kids read this one. A store announcer has to say some things she’d really rather rephrase.

Two Authors

The latest in a long line of collections of bad jokes, Two Authors meet and chat about their work.

I sold my Soul to Santa

It’s a shame Billy’s so bad at spelling : His letter to Santa went to the wrong entity…

The Four Yorkshiremen of the Apocalypse

Four very familiar figure contend verbally with tales of who has created the most misery, destruction and death.

The Spa

Brian isn’t keen about attending the Spa, but it turns out to be completely different to what he was expecting.

Parents Evening at Magic School

I don’t remember writing this one, and it’s funny, so I think it’s David’s. Parents of a kid at Magic school receive an unexpected report on “Meet the Teacher” night.

A Brand New Ancient Tradition

The President of the newly-free country of Sovazni will be arriving soon, and there must be a demonstration of traditional dancing. But no one knows any traditional dances… Time to “Extrapolate from known sources”

We interrupt this Revolution

It’s time for the President’s address to the newly-free people of Sovazni, but the sponsors of the revolution would like to have a quick word….

To see the very latest published scripts, visit the Lazy Bee “What’s New” page

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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.

Seven months in and time for the dentist…(originally posted Oct 23/09)

Not so long ago I said the only fly in the immigration ointment was that our Care Cards had been delayed. Well, that’s all over now, as they’re here and we’re in the system. To celebrate, we’re off to the dentist today (not actually covered under the health system, but Mrs Dim has some jolly good Health Insurance as part of her job, so there you go.) It’s a Pro D day, so the kids aren’t in school and for once I’m not whining about it. There’s no half term here, and they’re all exhausted, so giving them a day when they don’t have to leap out of bed early and rush off into the rain (yeah, it’s Fall here, so it’s raining!) might do ’em some good. Of course, the two tiniest weasels have leaped out of bed early anyway, but they’re slumped on the sofa watching TV and making no effort to expend any energy. Mrs Dim has launched off for another day of work, but she goes with a smile on her face.

What I love about life at the moment is the sudden realisations – we live in Canada! I get ’em when I drive down the hill and see mountains on the horizon. I get ’em when I drive to the shops, park in the underground car park and go shopping without getting wet on a rainy day. Yesterday I was reading the local paper and one of the columnists was saying that he’d just been to the US and he reckoned the level of customer service was better there. He said Canadians do ok, but good service in Canada is as rare as bad service in the US. I laughed, thinking of the UK. This week I was out for coffee with someone who wants me to write an article about his business. He’s an ex-pat, and we took along his Design Bod, who is also from England. The three of us went into the local Starbucks and had a collective English moment. I asked for a black coffee, and then got grilled for twenty minutes – did I want extra hot water, what type of coffee, what size of cup? The other laughed at my naivity and then tried to order tea. That took another half an hour and fifty questions. We didn’t bother with snacks.

I have my home page set to the UK news, so I was watching the approach of the BNP on Question Time with mild interest. It also cropped up on FaceBook, with some of my more vocal friends setting out their arguments for or against. I’m glad that it looks like letting the Chief Idiot of the party onto the show allowed him to demonstrate his stupidity and bigotry – he’s now complaining that he was bullied. Oh dear, my heart bleeds – for a party who support a ban on immigration, pursued a racist policy and incite hatred (not to mention the man himself being a Holocaust Denier) to be bullied, what a shame! The sad part is that they will never accept that what they believe is wrong.

A long time ago, when I was at college, we had to do a course which I always think of as Moral Philosophy. It wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like. Our teacher was radically liberal. There were no gray areas in his life, and he was in favour of rights for everybody, which is a lovely idea. Except we ran into a small wrinkle one day. He announced that he would not be teaching the next day’s lesson because he had to attend a rally in London to march on the headquarters of a Neo-Nazi-type group. The plan was that his group would crush the Neo-Nazis in some way, destroying them forever. Now, nobody in our class was Pro-Nazi, but someone raised the point that, even though their ideas were reprehensible, the fact that we live in a Democracy means they have the right to hold those views. They can’t enforce their ideas of hatred, they can’t act on them, but they CAN hold them.

No, said the teacher. They are wrong, and we will crush them. He wouldn’t accept that he was passing judgement on a group of people and trying to impose his world view on them, just like the Nazis themselves tried to do. The difference was, he reasoned, that the Nazis were wrong and he wasn’t. So it goes with the BNP. They rally the disenfranchised to their banner, but the response should not be to try and ban them, to attack them, to push them out. They are trying to say that Britain is exclusively the province of a white Anglo-Saxon people, which is patently absurd. The best thing to do is let them set out their policies and beliefs, examine them and show HOW they are wrong. All those people who voted for them are not necessarily racist. Some will be, but I suspect a lot are simply misinformed. “The BNP want Britain for the British? Well, I’m British, hooray, maybe they’ll get me back into work? Maybe they’ll stop the immigrants living off the benefit that I paid for with my taxes…” Maybe, but I would doubt it. Britain, like Canada, is a multi-cultural society, and always has been. The mix of races and beliefs has always contributed to the growth of the nation, whereas the attempt to define “Britishness” has only led to division, hatred and violence. The BNP and parties like them are a throwback, an evolutionary dead end.

Why do I get so worked up about the country I don’t live in anymore? I still have a lot of friends there, my family live there. It’s all too easy to look back at the UK as a small, crowded pit of misery, and I’d like to think of things getting better there. Mrs Dim was talking to the weasels this week when they were down – they’d been saying “If we go back to England..” which is their chorus when they’re tired or upset. Going back to England will solve every problem, and, inTiniest Weasel’s case, allow her hair to grow back after her latest haircut…Anyway, Mrs Dim described some of the reasons we emigrated, and then I heard Middle Weasel telling some friends “England is full of people running around with knives and drinking drugs….” which is not how I remember it. For a start, I was always told never to run with knives or scissors…