Tag Archives: drama

Recalled to Life

I feel like I had the great welcoming into the drama group on Monday night.  I’d met a few people in the other sessions, but everybody made a point of introducing themselves to me this time.  I’ve been working very hard at providing useful criticism, and I make a special effort to understand what the writer intends with the work, rather than what I would do with the same material.

It’s all about respect, which can be scarce in drama groups, given the egos involved.  By giving respect, I’m getting it.  I think you learn a lot more from listening than from getting your point across.  And three people actually came to me separately after we broke up to ask me to bring some of my writing in.  (They mean plays, and I don’t have any plays at the moment.  That’s a hard thing to confess.)

Anyway, the six lines topic was one I introduced, “That’s a great question.”  People worked wonderful twists on this (including setting up “To be or not to be” as the great question.  With my own topic, you’d think I’d score big, but I didn’t pull out anything.  I’d done three scripts with very strong situations (death of a politician as explained by the son who is running against him; drunk, naked, newly tattooed kid explaining his situation to his dad; breaking the bad news of where we are to a new arrival to hell).  Unfortunately, none of them were well-written.  And in a night of really enchanting stories, they would have branded me as a loser.

Oh, and I’m recalled to life because, as Anne Shirley would say, “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”  I’ve had more rejections since my last lamentation.  Including two no comment ones from markets that usually give me encouragement.  But today, I pulled myself back together and sent out two and put Waverley into the Baen mix.  (The Charisma Plague is still being chewed on, so version four is not posted yet.)  I’m always better when I rise up, shake my fist and take some steps forward.  Once I got a rejection notice with instructions on how to fold it into an origami swan.  Now those were the days.

Putting work out there is important, but actual writing separates the writers from the wannabees. The work does continue.  In addition to getting big chunks of Charisma done (mostly added scenes I don’t feel I need by the group says I do), I have a complete draft of Whinging.  It does everything that a story needs to do, in my opinion.  Now it needs some rewriting.   Something new?  I’ve got a time travel police piece (say that five times).  It’s on hold at the moment while I get some research from cops.  But I won’t wait very long.  My goal is always to be working on something new and something old.

Best news of the week was from an artist friend.  We talk weekly about writing.  He told me that he has pinned a note up in his workspace, “It’s supposed to be fun!”  It’s a mantra he credits to me, and it’s quite an honor to be quoted by a successful artist.  Take inspiration from wherever you find it.  (And you can quote me on that.)


A rejection, a second drama meeting and chewing on a tale

Always great to open the email and find another rejection for a story.  Today, I found that Waverley, which is a sort of nostalgic/aliens/pied piper tale, didn’t make the cut.  Again.  It is one of my more personal and unusual pieces, so it wasn’t a big surprise.  Reading tea leaves?  It took three times as long for it to be rejected as is typical for the pub.  (Great information supplied by one of my favorite sites, Duotrope’s Digest.)  Of course, maybe the editor just got busy.

Last night, things went a bit better.  I went to the drama group again.  There are some heavy hitters there, and I saw the first act of another piece by the star of the last session.  It was a death row story from two different viewpoints.  Not my sort of thing, but the dialogue was so good, it was irresistable.  I had my own work read by real actors, which was fun.  This was for the “six lines.”  I had to be humiliated first.  I had got the assignment just the day before: “You don’t know who I am.”  In my rush to complete something, I actually wrote seven lines, so I had to be told I was not going to be allowed to present, etc. etc.  They relented, and there was some appreciation for the twist at the end.  I’ve put the whole thing below.  See what you think.

Lastly, I’m working on version four of an SF story for Baen’s Universe.  They have an online workshop for newbies.  The good and the bad of any critique group is there, but I am working hard to make my work less “distant.”  This is a real problem with my work.  (Years ago, an editor described my work is third person, over the hill, in the next county.)  I have dug into the discussions in the workshop, and I think I finally, “get it.”  Version 3 had encouraging results.  Version 4, I’m hoping will be closer.  And I’m going to take what I’ve learned and see if it will help Waverley.

Six Lines


 Look, Buster.  I hope you’ve gotten an eyeful because it’s time for you to move on.  Take your monobrow, your fat butt and your cheap shoes over to the snack table.  You’ve got a better chance with the clam dip than you’ve got with me.


Nice.  Nice.  But I’m going to give you a second chance.  I may not look like Tom Cruise, but I am Valentino, reborn.  Five hundred years go, I was Don Juan and I gave pleasure to a thousand women.  Two thousand years ago, I was Marc Antony and Cleopatra died for my embrace.


Well, no one is dying for your embrace now.  They’d prefer to be dead.  You’ve got a less than zero chance with me.  Now go satisfy yourself with a bowl of nachos.


I like you.  I enjoy the thrill of the chase.  It heats things up, you know?  The other women here will just have to wait in line.  I’m all yours tonight.


Do you see that rather big man near the door?  He works for me.  Once I saw him pick up a jerk, a jerk much larger than you, with one hand and stuff him into an aquarium.  I’ll call him over here. 


 Call gorilla over if you must.  I’ll keep trying.  There is a tie between us that transcends time and space.  Our hearts are linked.  Through all of history, we have known each other.  Insults and threats can never keep us apart.  You will be mine.


I didn’t want to say this.  You’ve forced me to tell you the truth.  This will hurt you.  I know that you have been a great lover throughout all of history.  The greatest!  And we have met, the two of us, over and over again.  You always love me.  And I always love you.  You know… a mother always loves her son.

Dramatic beginnings

I’ve made my living by writing for decades now.  In the past year or so, I’ve ventured into new territories of fiction.  About two weeks ago, this took a strange turn when I joined a local drama group.

Drama?  Drama?  I don’t know upstage from downstage.  I’ve never spoken a line in a theater except from a seat in the audience.   But my friend Bob, who recently had a play produced by this gang, invited me to come to one of their twice monthly workshops.

I almost backed out.  Having been involved in numerous writing groups over the year, including a summer at Clarion, I felt I should bring some of my own work.  It can be hard to take criticism from someone who doesn’t stand up to take a few blows.  As stated, my collected works includes no plays.  I have a completed screenplay, but that seemed like overkill.  Rummaging through stuff that represented my current efforts, I found a curiosity that could work as a monologue.  In fact, more people had heard me read it aloud than had read it.

I asked Bob what he thought  and he told me you needed to give your manuscript to the group’s guru ahead of time.  So I emailed it.  Almost by return mail, I was told that 1) I needed to go to the back of the line and 2) monologues were not appropriate unless part of a larger work.

I read this as “sit down and shut up.” Luckily the response came in email, not face-to-face.  My wife said theater culture is different from storywriting culture.  So I took a deep breath, asked that my manuscript be withdrawn and decided to show up and see what happened.

I’m glad I did because one of the key people there had several portions of his play read, and they were brilliant.  The scenes worked, alternating humor with heatbreaking conflict.  It was better than some evenings I’ve spent on Broadway, and I would have slit my wrists if he hadn’t said he’d been working on it for six years.

We had several other one acts, including one by Bob that was quite impressive, and a few the did not crush my writer’s ego.  I felt like I was able to offer some effective criticism, too, which is nice at your first time at bat.

The group also has an exercise of six lines, three by each of a pair of actors.  This was charming and apparently did not require waiting in line.  We also had a monologue, not connected with any larger work.

On Monday, I go to my second meeting of this group.  I have some lines ready, but I probably won’t pull them out this time.  I’ll have them, though.  Just in case things get dull.