Strings of Pearls

Don't start writing too soon (contributed by Adrian Hornsby)

Within a play time is very tight, and every scene has to serve the purpose. If you start writing before you really know where you are going you will wind up with a number of aimless scenes which, because they may contain nice dialogue, you get attached to and try to force into a play. It is much better to get a strong structure first, and then start laying the flesh. Before writing a word you should have at least one good image which you know will be central to the play, and a developed sense of all the major characters.

Constructive daydreaming (contributed by Shena Wilson)

There's certainly a lot to be said for plain old discipline, but one of my current favourite methods of progressing with whatever I'm creating is: Constructive Daydreaming.
Thinking before writing is so basic that sometimes I overlook it. I'm so keen to write and revise, to get something onto the page at all costs, that I rattle along without fully forming the scene or description. Sometimes this is fruitful, but, most often, it's a waste of energy and time. Allowing myself to really 'daydream' it through first is more efficient in the long run. (I suppose this is also known as making a plan, but daydreaming sounds liberating, more fun.)
Instead of sitting in front of the computer and either staring at the keyboard, changing my screensaver, cleaning out my e-mail box or polishing up the perhaps useless sentences I've already got (while pretending this is constructive because it's a bore), I get up from the desk and find a simple manual task that takes about twenty minutes (ironing, dishes etc) before I get back to it. The trick is making sure I'm still thinking about the scene in question, and therefore making progress while away from the page. The distraction of the simple manual task truly allows my mind to wander better.

Screenwriting : the three-act structure (contributed by Nancy Heikin)

In screenwriting, when starting out, it is very helpful to use a three act structure to learn how to pace yourself in the story. Though disparaged by some screenwriting teachers as tending toward "formula" I have always found the three act structure a great way to make sure your story is moving along. Once you've mastered the feeling of the three acts, you can do countless variations on them.

Writing in the morning (contributed by Michael diantonio)

One thing that works for me is writing in the morning, when one is the most fresh, uncensored and uncluttered with daily events. Once the day gets rolling, it's unlikely that I'll get down to the business of writing, until it's late and I'm too tired. I do my best when I have a routine for writing in the morning. I like to stop the day's work when I'm in the zone and I have a good idea of where I'm going next.

The whole thing must be TRUE (contributed by Jack Shea)

A theatre is a place where art seeks to present to the mind a real and living drama, something that once took place, something that was once as actual as our life today, a thing that happened. To do this three things are necessary - the genius of the actor, the genius of the painter, the genius of the costumier. The illusion is not complete without the truth of impersonation, the truth of place, the truth of dress. The whole thing must be TRUE. (Sarah Bernhardt on historical drama : 1910)


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