Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Play's the Thing...


When writing my novels I often lean for help on my time in educational, community, and just-for-fun theatrical productions. 


When involved in theater, either before or behind the footlights, either acting or directing or stage managing or providing costumes or lighting...I got to hear the play sliced diced, taken apart, tinkered and experimented with, then put back together and performed, with high hopes, towards the delight of audiences. It this process the structure comes through!

Choose the best, you'll be living with it for awhile!

Some of what I learned: 

1. If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage!  Translated: if I'm going to spend all this time with a project, it had better be well written! So I've always tried to find good theater or movie projects to give my time to. For my books: SAME...anything less than striving for excellence is not worth my time.

2. Plays are about PEOPLE, just like novels. In my first draft, I am also creating a cast list, a dramatis personae in theater. Who's who? Are they all necessary to tell my story? Do two perform the same function and so can be combined, or one of them eliminated? Are they of various ages, genders, backgrounds to help my story have multiple perspective and generations?

3. Plays are composed of SCENES. So are books. I find it more helpful to look at my manuscript as scenes, rather than chapters, then dissect...do I have too many scenes in the same room or place? Do I mix up daytime and nighttime locations? Does each scene have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and a consistent point of view? Will each scene leave the reader satisfied and/or wanting more?

scenes: leave 'em hanging, when necessary!


  1. As a former thespian myself, I love drama, and I often found myself writing as if for the stage. But nowadays, I find most of my writing structure by watching and dissecting popular movies. Thanks, Eileen, for sharing.

    1. Creative juices manifest in many ways! So happy to hear you're a fellow thespian, Vijaya!

  2. Grand advice especially the part about scenes. Tha's so important to vary the places most of the time. I've delighted in your stories

  3. Thanks a million, Janet! You and I are a mutual admiration society!


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