Friday, December 28, 2012

Sharing for revision

(portions of this post were originally published on January 8, 2009)

I hope you’ve had a great holiday filled with inspiration for your play. Some scripts have already started to come in to the office and I look forward to being inundated with them over the next two weeks. There is just a little over a week until your plays need to be submitted for entry into the 2013 NJ Young Playwrights Contest. This means that you still have some time for last minute revisions and tweaking before January 14 and 15th. Be sure to follow the guidelines for submission on the NJYPF webpage at

Perhaps this weekend you can get together with a group of friends or family who’s opinion you trust and have an informal reading of the play. This doesn’t need to be a formal presentation, or a fully acted reading (though it can if you want it to be). Often a reading like this works best when everyone is hanging around the living room on couches or chairs. An informal reading will provide you with the opportunity to hear the play outside of your head and see how actors or your intended audience might respond to the piece.

I know that receiving critique on something that you’ve written can be uncomfortable to bear. This is why it is important to keep the event informal and only include people whose opinions you trust. It is also helpful to inform your group that the goal of the reading is for you to hear it out loud and potentially strengthen some areas. You may want to provide your readers with a list of questions you have, or certain sections of the play that you are unsure about. Ask the group to tell you what they liked FIRST, and then get into suggestions, questions, or ideas.

IMPORTANT! - Always remember that YOU are the playwright! Everyone who reads or sees your play will respond to it differently; will have his or her own opinion about how your story should be told. It is important that you listen to what people have to say, but in the end, this is your play and you have the final say in how it is written. Just remember that the goal of writing a play is to communicate an idea to the largest audience possible. The reactions of your reading group may give you an idea of what a larger audience does and does not get from your play. If they are missing something that you want the audience to get, you may want to see where you might be able to make revisions to get that point across.

Rewriting is tough, especially after you've put so much into completing that first draft. But it is well worth the trouble. Have fun!

Happy writing!

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