variety is the spice of writing

Over the weekend I completed the edits on “Bone Mother” as requested by Paul Tremblay, the co-editor of the Fantasy anthology (and Fantasy Magazine). It was a painless process, because the suggestions were mostly wise and useful. I used the opportunity to correct a couple of small errors that a friend pointed out.

On Monday I finished a short one-act play, which is currently called Consequences (that will probably change). I wrote it in response to a challenge my screenwriting/playwriting group posed: members were to write a short play/set of monologues/short film by a set deadline. The idea was to provoke new material, and also to see if some of us could work in a new medium. I was keen to try my hand at playwriting, which is new territory.

Discovering the best format to use for a play wasn’t easy. Apparently there is an American style, and a European style, but there doesn’t seem to be any rigorous standard like you’d experience in screenwriting (or even in short story writing). The BBC’s Writers Room has a handy page that lists suggested formats for scripts across a range of media. I decided to use their U.K. Stage Format. If it’s good enough for the Beeb it’s good enough for me.

Initially, I attempted to use Final Draft to write the piece, but since the format wasn’t the same as the UK style, I abandoned it in favour of a Word document I created with a bunch of tabs and special line formats. It was irritating to set up, but now I can copy the file for future use.

Over the past year I’ve made a concerted effort to attend more plays, and I’ve been reading plays too. It’s very, very different to screenwriting. Several of the standard tropes of playwriting would be anathema in a screenplay. I’m still getting a feel for it.

Yet, it was fun to write the one-act play. I don’t know if it’s viable, or interesting enough for production, and even I can see that the ending needs work, but it was great to stretch the mind and branch out a little. I’m looking forward to hearing what the more experienced playwrights have to say about the piece in the New Year. It may end up being just an interesting experiment, but even those are useful.

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