I keep running, lightly, holding my breath, until I think I’ve come to the Clearing. I stop and spin round, then pounce a little way up the slope to look down.Little Forks by Rebecca Sharp. Part of Stellar Quines Rehearsal Room: 25, at the Traverse, 28-29 October 2014.
Tha mi a’ faicinn an fhèidh -
I see the deer.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.”
Allen Ginsberg, HOWL, 1955
HOWL[ing] is an epic poem for post-referendum Scotland, using beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s seminal piece HOWL as a basis. At the Traverse for one night only on 16 October 8pm.
So, we’re at the end of the first A Play, A Pie and A Pint week and Flame Proof has gone down brilliantly.
This week, to celebrate the new writing of A Play, A Pie and A Pint, writer Lesley Hart has shared her top ten tips for would-be writers:
(1) If you have the impulse to write plays, you’ll have questions – burning questions. You may have one central question that you feel compelled to ask again and again. Questions at the heart of plays are usually a variation on “How should we live our lives?” Find the question at the heart of your play, write it large, keep it in view, and with every single moment, be asking it.
(2) Be obsessed with your play. Keep delving again and again into every moment - each time you delve you’ll make new discoveries. You’re not an expert on your play by dint of being its author. You have to study it fanatically.
(3) Playwriting for me is all chemistry – set the conditions (the questions, hypotheses, characters, conflicts, timings, temperature, settings) and carry out controlled experiments. The drafts of an idea, and of the script itself, emerge from these experiments.
(4) Your first idea is sometimes your best – but more often than not it is your worst! Your most original idea (not the thing that jumps to mind) is more likely to be your third, fourth, fifth.
(5) All dialogue is action – if it is not an action performed by a character in pursuit of a goal, in the moment of saying it, then it is not active, and should be cut – or else put into action.
(6) Don’t put words in characters mouths. When they need to speak (in pursuit of a goal), they will.
(7) It’s not useful to define your characters by adjectives. The same list of adjectives can apply to totally different characters. Elizabeth Bennett is witty, intelligent, observant, aspirational, trapped. So is Hannibal Lecter. What sets them apart as characters are their own specific goals and obstacles.
(8) Do something meditative. Your play will slowcook in your subconscious overnight, and when you are doing other things. You need time away from your desk to process. Eureka moments happen in the bath, the garden, when running, walking, knitting, in bed. Sometimes if I’m stuck I’ll have a nap and try to literally dream up solutions. Sometimes it works!
(9) Don’t censor yourself. Let all your ideas flow out onto the page, however wild and ridiculous they may seem. If you’re asking your question and setting clear conditions for your play, everything that comes to mind is valid, particularly in your first draft – you don’t know which ideas are best until you add them to the mix.
(10) Don’t write to impress anyone else. Just be rigorous with your investigation – eek out all the truth
Next week, we’ve Mrs Barbour’s Daughters by AJ Taudevin from Tuesday 14 - Saturday 18 October.