Lessons on character, story and writing from the heart

In the July group meeting we shared our thoughts on challenges we faced in our writing and our weaknesses, so here are a few links aimed at those weakness and challenges. The ones that seemed to emerge the most were – developing character and story and getting the structure right.

Events Vs Actions and Structure Breakdown of Breaking Bad Pilot Episode from the Story Department

Story questionnaire and Character questionnaire on Script Lab

The Principles of Writing Radio by Tim Crook

A lesson on writing this week from Joss Whedon, talking about the cancellation of Firefly and not been able to tell the stories of Shepherd Book and Anara – write the stories that you are so passionate about that even ten years later, thinking about the stories you didn’t get to tell, will still haunt you.

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Next session Tuesday 20th July

The next meeting of the Writing for Performance group at Aberystwyth Arts Centre will take place on Tuesday 20th July 7.30 – 9.30. This month we’re meeting in the recording studio.

As always if anyone has work to share then please bring it along, whether it’s one page or a full length play. If it’s a longer piece though try to send it out to the group to give everyone in the group time to read it.

If you have a scene or a few pages you’re working on and would like it hear it read out then bring it along.

If you have ideas on you mind then why not pitch to the group. It’s always useful to have to explain the idea and to hear other’s thoughts and feedback even when it’s at an early stage of development. So why not talk us through your ideas for PlayPen or for the radio writing project.

This month I also want you to think about the following and share your thoughts with the group; what are your weaknesses as a writer? what are the things you struggle with the most? what area do you think you need to develop?

Finally a reminder that in August we will be looking back on Town with No Traffic Wardens and exploring how we take the project forward in order to do this then we need to think about which characters stories need to be carried through, what structure can we use, what process should be use to take it forward. Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood was mentioned so if you haven’t read, seen or heard this play then try to do this before the session on 14th August.

We will also be doing a little exercise on shaping a character arc, so if you want to get the most from the exercise then make sure you have a character who is quite developed in your mind or on paper for either a theatre or radio idea. A writing exercise to help you develop the character is here

Please try to bring something with you for the July session so that everyone has something to share, talk about or read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Projects #2 Writing for Radio Drama

The writing for radio project will look at all forms of writing for radio drama, it will  lead to an event in May 2013 where we will launch the plays from a web platform hosted by Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

The plays will be recorded in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre recording studio, a director and engineer. There will be two female and two male actors.

The plays should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes.

The plays will be recorded end of April beginning of May.

The deadline for final drafts of radio plays will be March.

The deadline for drafts of radio plays will be in February when there will be a workshop session with a radio writer and actors.

Alongside looking at short plays we will also look at other slots for radio plays including 45 minute, 60 minute and 5 x 15 minute. It is also worth thinking about the readings slots which are short stories, monologues or dramas written to be read by one actor.

In the autumn there will be two masterclass sessions with radio writers. Dates will be announced shortly.

Tips
1. Listen to radio plays. There are a vast range of radio plays available on –line
Afternoon Drama for BBC radio 4
More Drama here including the womans hour drama slot
Drama of the week that can be downloaded is here
Lots more radio on Radio4 Extra 

2. Read radio play scripts  here

3. Use your character exercises to develop you radio play characters but add this to the list of questions – what sounds do you associate with your character; bird song, rock music, running water, humming, a hammer banging, a whisper

4. Lots of tips on writing radio here

5. Think about the beginning. If you get this wrong then you will lose your listeners before you even begin because they will literally switch off.

6. Think about the medium. It is radio; flashbacks, complex time shifts, large casts are going to make things very difficult.

7. This is the medium to let your imagination run free.

8. Radio is a great medium to write for so respect it. Don’t just think I can just change this idea a bit and it will work – it won’t. Here are my thoughts on writing for different mediums

9. Find out about the radio writing commissioning process in this great blog from Michelle Lipton on radio commissioning process

Future Project #1 PlayPen

Following their sell out showcase Town with No Traffic Wardens the next writers group project at Aberystwyth Arts Centre will be two evenings of 20 minute plays as script-in-hand rehearsed readings. PlayPen will take place in February 2012 on two consecutive Thursday evenings.

The deadlines for rehearsals drafts is 7th January and workshop drafts have to completed by 4th December.

The deadline for 1st drafts is 13th November.

As we have had two projects about subjects chosen for the group PlayPen is about letting your imagination run free and writing about any subject so other than no-longer than 20 minutes there are no rules. It can be on any subject, any style and have any number of characters. However having said there are  no rules then the first guidance I would offer is don’t make it difficult for yourself. 12 characters might be a little difficult if not impossible! However if you want to have 12 characters no-one is going to stop you.

Tips
1. Develop your characters – we’ve done lots of character development exercises so there is no excuses for underdeveloped characters.

2. Develop your structure – we’ve also done lots of exercises on structuring plays so think carefully about the structure of your play

3. Challenge yourself – if you’ve only written monologues before then write a dialogue, if you’ve only written static plays before try to write one with real physicality and movement, if you usually write short scenes then write longer ones, if you usually write comedy then try out that darker tone, if your last play had a male protagonist then write for a female protagonist

4. Show your voice – this is a rule free showcase so write what you’re passionate about, don’t write for others, don’t write for an imagined audience this is your chance to show-off your unique voice

5. Don’t write for a script-in-hand – this is a chance to write a one act play that can add to your portfolio and be sent to competitions so don’t just think about what will work as a script-in-hand

6. Think about your medium – this isn’t radio, film or TV this is theatre so write for theatre

7. See or read plays

8. See or read some more plays

9. See or read even more plays

10. Stop making excuses and get writing. The only way you will find out if that idea works is to get it written. If it doesn’t work then it will need rewriting. If it does work it will need re-writing. Then it will need some more re-writing. So basically the main thing you should be doing is writing.