Are there any writers in the house?

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If so, then I highly suggest you get in THE LOOP.

The Loop is an online community of playwrights, et al. that posts helpful tips, theatre-related news, submission opportunities, and much, mch more onto their website. I've been a member of this community for a few years now and I've learned a great deal about new play development and literary management from their various offerings. Also, a majority of the submission opportunities I've forwarded to our playwrights have come directly from The Loop.

Just launched is a social networking site that links Loopers to each other much like Facebook does. Here you'll find some incredible opportunities to connect with other writers and subscribe to the musings of Loop's creator, Gary Garrison (who's also the Executive Director for Creative Affairs of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Artistic Director and Division Head of Playwriting for the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts).

Gary's recent postings have been so enlightening that I asked him if I could re-post them and he kindly obliged (what a great guy!). Below are two I'd like to share with you today:

1. EQUATION FOR CONFLICT
Ever seen this?

NEED = BEHAVIOR = CONFLICT

That translates, dramatically, into this: if a character desperately/ intensely/ relentlessly NEEDS something (love, power, companionship, revenge) they will behave in such a way that will undoubtedly put them into conflict.

Put two people in the same room that have the same need (to be the center of attention) and you have automatic conflict.

Put two people in the same room that have completely opposing needs (the need to be alone; the need for companionship), and you have automatic conflict.

Now, then, that wasn't so hard, was it?

2. LIP SERVICE
Simple exercise for a complicated dramaturgical problem:
  • Take a page of dialogue from one of your plays that has three characters or more speaking to one another.
  • Using liquid white-out, blank out all the names.
  • Make a Xerox copy of that page.
  • Hand it to a fellow playwright, director or actor – someone who reads a lot of plays.
  • Ask: how many people are speaking on this page?
If they can’t tell you the number of people speaking, there’s a problem, no? The complexities of language, and our choice of wording, phrasing, syntax, etc., is informed by our education, religion, age, culture, politics, familial hierarchy, gender, sexuality, ancestry, etc.

In short, our personal use of language is as unique to each of us as our fingerprints. No two people speak the same. Why should they appear the same, then, on paper?

The answer to that is simple: they shouldn't.
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Simple and to the point. Messages that remind you of the basics of playwriting when things begin to feel too complicated.

And there's more where that came from! Join THE LOOP - you won't regret it.


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