Monday, November 14, 2011

Back in the saddle, again

We're exactly 2 months from the submission deadline for the 2012 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival. Again those dates are:
  • January 14 - High School division (grades 10, 11, 12)
  • January 15 - Junior HS (7, 8, 9) and Elementary (4, 5, 6) divisions
Please see the Festival website at for a full explanation of the submission process. Please be sure to follow the directions exactly! I look forward to receiving your play soon!

It has been very busy at the theatre recently and I've missed posting to this blog for a while. I look to get back into the swing of things by reposting some of the most helpful information from previous years. I will also generate some new posts, too. In the end, I hope that all of this is helpful as you begin/continue/finish work on your play!

Hopefully you have begun to write and are starting to develop an idea into a story. For those of you still struggling to start, or unsure how to begin, I will remind you of two common phrases:
  • "Write what you know."
  • "What if?"
That first phrase is a bit dubious and I've seen many young writers interpret it to mean that they can only start writing something when they've become an expert about it. I don't interpret it this way at all. I see "write what you know" as a reminder to a playwright that he/she to think through their story fully. That is to say, make sure that you as the writer are comfortable with the story and the characters enough so that you understand what is happening, why it happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens. Understanding these things means that you will know your story.

If you have chosen to write about something that you know directly - perhaps something that happened in your life, or a topic or event that interests you, I strongly suggest that you consider using "What if?" to put some distance between yourself and that topic. If you choose to write about a moment like this, ask yourself "What if the opposite thing happened?" For example, there is an interesting genre of literature out there called alternative history in which the authors take a historical event and imagine what would happen if the opposite occurred. What if the British stopped the American revolution? This works for those life events, too. What if I didn't miss the bus? (Or what if I did miss the bus?)

These are just a couple of ways in which you can start to write your play (or get through some writers block, perhaps). The important thing is that you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and WRITE!

And I wish you all of the best as you do just that!

Happy writing!

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