Friday, July 10, 2015

Digital Master Class for Young Playwrights

A few days ago, as the summer playwriting class was working through their story idea discussed in the previous post, I thought it might be interesting to hear from some playwrights about how they get started on a new work. So, took to Twitter and sent the following question:

I also wrote to a few writers directly and received some excellent responses, which I shared with the playwrights the very next day. The class found many of the playwrights' suggestions very helpful as they wrote that day, so I am posting them below for all our young playwrights to use. You may find these suggestions useful not only as you start writing, but throughout the revision process, too.

Tweets are shared largely as they were received. Some tweaks were made to make any Twitter-speak a bit more readable here. (Websites and Twitter handles included, when possible.) You can find the original suggestions on Twitter under #youngplaywrights.

Pia Wilson (@pwilson720)
 “I usually wind up with an idea for a play & let it roll around in my head for a while B4 I decide it’s worth doing”

 “Then, if the characters keep talking 2 me, I’ll write character descriptions. I usually hear/see a scene repeatedly”

Ramon Esquivel (@Bub1974)
“Start with the strongest element of idea: the character, setting, situation, or question. Fill in the rest later.”

Dania Ramos (@DaniaDania)
 “Depends on project. Usually do basic outline w post-its on foam board. Easy to switch, add, cut scenes as I go.”

“Here’s an example from a novel. For plays there are less post-its. Good luck to the playwrights!”

Storyboard from Dania Ramos

Lauren Gunderson (@LalaTellsAStory
“I envision an ending (maybe not THE ending). Once I know where the story is headed I can really start writing.”

Gabriel Jason Dean (@GabrielJasonDea)
"I ruminate for a long time before I write, figure out basics of my story, driving conflict. Need those first."

D.W. Gregory (@dwgregorywrites)

“often start with questions to myself about the characters”

“many pages of questions; then an exploratory scene to get the characters talking”

"Questions: start with basics -- who is this person, what does she want, why does she want it?”

“What’s the story in two sentences? Why am I drawn to it? What do I want to explore?”

“who else is in the story? Why must they be in the story? How do their needs conflict with the central character’s?”

“I write down as many questions as come to mind. No answers, just questions.”

“Then I visualize an event that I am sure will be in the play somewhere and I write a scene. Pure exploration.”

“I write the scene to let the characters talk to me. This stimulates more questions.”

“after I fill a lot of pages with questions I sometimes think about the events of the play. In broad strokes."

“What do I know must be in the play – things that must happen, things that may. Write these down as they occur to me.”

“Then I look at the events and start to think about the order of events. How does the sequence serve my aims?"

“when I have seven major events in a sequence I think makes sense I start to work on a detailed outline."

“Once I have a rudimentary outline I start writing scenes – and start answering questions.”