Making your characters sing

on Jun13 2017

It’s been a good writing day today. I’ve been working through sections of my Mary Rose play asking questions of each scene. For example, what’s the point of this? Who is leading the action? Who is making a decision?

That’s quite difficult to do – the first time I did it for a piece of writing I nearly cried as I couldn’t answer myself. Now I know the questions are coming,  I am ruthless about cutting as I write, so theoretically the answers should come quicker.

But I was surprised today to find that the central story has moved to a secondary character, and not the character I thought it belonged too. So this means a whole night of pondering if I like this development, if I need to change it back, if I need to develop this further.

I think that this has happened because I’ve ignored my number one rule of having a tight plot structure before I started. Rules were meant to be broken right?

These characters though, they’re tricky.

I learnt today that two of them are distant cousins. I hadn’t seen that coming, but it explains their bickering. I also learnt my protagonist has a hobby that I hadn’t dreamt of, and my antagonist can make me cry. I think this means they’re working well.

How should you go about checking out that your characters work?

There’s no simple fix, and there’s also a million articles and blogs online that’ll offer advice.

Here are a couple of my check points which I’ve picked up from all over the internet, workshops and my own head:

  • Do they speak with their own words and pattern?
    (As in, they don’ all sound the same)
  • Do they have a life before and after the play?
    (Working out what they do at other times of the day gives you a better idea of who they are)
  • What would have happened to them today if this plot hadn’t dropped on top of them?
    (Are they the type of person who will create drama, or will drama find them?)
  • What do they value?
    (Do they hang out with people who tell the truth, or have money, or   . . . what?)
  • How do they respond to people who are not like them?
    (I forgive some people who annoy me, others I don’t. It’s to do with whether they ft into my value systems.)
  • Is their best friend more interesting than them?
    (I always felt the Harry Potter books would have been even better as a Hermione Granger or Ron Weasley series)
  • What happens if their sex is flipped, are they still believable?
    (This is a super technique to see if you’re writing stereotypical tosh. Trust me, it works. Make females male, and males female. Ouch.)
  • And finally, can their name change?
    (If it can’t, if they have to be that name, I know my job is done.)

Let me know if these are useful to you! And, once again, thank you Arts Council for making this happen!

 

 

 

Lovely lists

on Dec13 2016

I’m not talking about shopping . . .  I am talking about writerly things.

Long list – long wait.

I have been long listed for Theatre Fest West’s playwright award. I had to send in twenty pages, and then wait ages, and was then told I was long-listed. Yah! This meant I had to send in the remainder of the play for perusal. I don’t know how many plays are on the long list. When I entered I wanted to be long-listed, that was my objective. And now? I desperately want to be shortlisted. Those that do – a mere three – get to work with a director and actors for a day and prepare the piece for a rehearsed reading. How cool would that be? Then the winner gets their show staged at Salisbury Playhouse.  So now I want to be shortlisted – but am not holding out much hope. I used tonnes of swear words as it is about relational aggression and teenagers. After working at a senior school for a few years, I heard it all. It can be horrible. Really tough. And also rather wonderful. But the question is, will the audiences of Salisbury be ready for my language. Hmm. We’ll have to wait and see. But I hope so. And I really hope I find out soon (if it’s a yes!).

Select few – short wait

I applied for a writer in residency role recently. And, brilliantly, I received an email today inviting me, as one of a select few, to an interview next week. I have to prepare a proposal of what I’d do if I am successful. I’ve just written pages and pages of ideas down and realised that I’ve planned out a full-time role rather than a residency. I can’t help myself, I’m super excited.

Auditions – Ambition

Then there’s the list of the people auditioning for Ambition – that’s the musical I was commissioned to write for Hampshire Music Service. Those auditions are next week.

Christmas – Santa and more

We all know what those are!

To get back to my home page, all you need do is cross your fingers and toes that Zella Compton gets on even shorter lists!

 

 

 

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