Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Playwriting and the Pet Peeves of Others

November 12, 2014

There’s an incredibly useful article over at the Playwrights Center website (not Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco, the group I’m involved with, but the national one in Minneapolis), Tips From Artistic Directors. In that article, there are a lot of positive tips: send your best work, follow guidelines, and many more.

Two ADs chose to include their pet peeves. Among these were opening monologues and phone calls. They suggested only using opening monologues if absolutely necessary and keeping phone calls to two or three lines. I’m assuming – I could be wrong – the ADs are referring to those phone calls where we only hear one side of the conversation.

One of my works contains two long one-sided phone calls and several have opening monologues. Do I:

1. Remove them immediately?
2. Make them better?
3. Not send them to these particular ADs?

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Stage directions: threat or menace?

December 3, 2011

In an interview with the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, Steven Epperson, Literary Manager for Impact Theatre talks about things that turn him off when reading a play. One of those things is too many stage directions. Among other things, he says “Having line after line after line after line of stage directions interrupts the flow and rhythm that I’m trying to discern from a playwright’s writing.” Further down, in the comments, he suggests as an exercise removing all stage directions except entrances and exits.

I consider myself somewhat spare in stage directions to begin with. Nevertheless, I tried Steven’s suggestion in a few places in one of my plays. What I discovered is that having too many stage directions can also interfere with my editing process.

Spoiler alert: If you’re doing blind reading for a competition that had a Nov. 30 deadline, you might not want to continue reading.

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What a difference a direction makes

May 8, 2010

My fourth full-length play My Visit to America (MVTA) is in revision. (My third play, The Beginning of Grammar, is also in revision, but it is not the subject of this post.) Last month, I took the opening nine pages — about 10 minutes — of Act II of MVTA to my playwriting group’s scene night to be read by actors. The comments were mostly negative. This week, I took the revised scene to the same group to be read. This time the comments were mostly positive, and people who were at both readings agreed the new version was a major improvement over the previous version.

Here’s the interesting part. I only changed one line of dialog, by having one character interrupt another’s expository sentence. But I don’t think that explains the improved comments. I think it was the other thing I changed: a stage direction.

Continue reading What a difference a direction makes