Archive for the Category » acting «

Dust Off that Play and do Some Rewrites…

Don’t be shy about looking at something you wrote a few years ago and rewriting and revising it. Most reputable publishing platforms will allow you to change the interior files and upload a revised, improved edition. I reviewed this children’s play of mine and in doing so found some editing and new writing. 

It’s October, Halloween is right around the corner. So I hauled out a play script that I wrote in 2013. Wow!  Did it need work. So I edited, did some extensive rewrites, gave it a new, more contemporary cover and then re-published. 

Synopsis: A young family rents a deserted lighthouse so that their critically ill daughter can enjoy the sea breezes and beautiful countryside. Little do they know that, for centuries, the lighthouse has been the home and is in the ‘possession’ of four outrageous spirits.  
 
Ben, an eight year old boy, has no trouble whatsoever making friends with two of the spirits, Baubles and Chaos.  The story climaxes as Claire, ill with cancer, slowly fades toward death. Baubles and Chaos have no intention of letting that happen! 

Available now!

 
While this play has it’s serious moments, for the most part, it is a comedy and makes for great fun as the spirits romp around the stage. The adults can neither see nor hear Chaos and Baubles as they converse and play with the children and terrorize a ‘Man of the Cloth’! All in innocent fun, of course!  4f. 4m. 2 children

If you’re an aspiring playwright you might want to take a look at >>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Monologues for Women

I woke up one morning and thought, “I’ve got some soliloquies tucked away that would make good monologues.  This book is unique because all the contemporary monologues are original.  Directors get bored and tired of the same old shoes like speeches from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Barefoot in the Park, Streetcar Named Desire, Pygmalion, View from the Bridge and others. Make them sit up and listen when you use something they have never heard before!

And that brings me to the point that I want to share with my readers out there who are writers or want to be writers.  Previously I was talking about my digging out some old and new work and turning them into a book of monologues.  Never, never throw anything away.  Open up that dusty old box of your scribbles that you have hidden away on the top shelf of the closet.  You might be surprised what you find and how much you like it after a year, five years or ten.  “Note from a Watery Grave” which I scribbled down back in 2002?….turns out it was pretty good with some additional editing on my part.  The end result was a new book.  My motivation: as an actor, I know how hard it is to find that perfect monologue for an audition.  How difficult it is to get the director’s attention and keep it.

While compiling this book, I remembered how I would go to an audition and announce that my classical piece was going to be Anne from Richard III.  The director (or audition panel) would roll their eyes and yawn in my face.  The ‘Anne’ that they were thinking of was an old tired thing that’s been done to death, when Richard confronts Anne over the coffin.  My ‘Anne’ was a conversation that I pieced together into a soliloquy and I was certain that they had never seen.   I got the same reaction from the director every time;  they sat up and listened!  And afterwards, they laughed and told me they were expecting something else and how refreshing mine was.

A final note:  I have included not only some classics (so that your audition will show contrast in your acting ability)  but also some original monologues for the African-American actress.

Sampling from Monologues 4 Women:

MARY ELIZABETH

(The Waltz, comedic)

My first dance! My first grown-up dinner dance since I got my job in the typing pool. I haven’t been asked to dance yet…no surprise… but I don’t care. My dress is only second hand, my hair is dressed and my nails are clean. I’m just happy to be here, watching the couples twirl around the floor to the most wonderful band I’ve ever heard. Never mind it’s the first band I’ve ever heard in person.

Ooo, look at that tall handsome man walking towards me. He’s probably getting something to drink for his date.
My mother always told us girls to stand near the refreshment table so more gentlemen would notice us and ask one of us to dance. But it was always Violet that they asked; of us six girls, she’s the beauty in the family. Wait! He’s looking right at me….he caught me staring and day-dreaming. I looked down and stared at my shoes; maybe he will ignore my bad manners and continue on….oh no, he stopped! His shoes are standing right in front of me.

He speaks. ‘Excuse me, Miss Guyer?’ My chin resting on my chest I mumble, ‘yes’. He tells me his name is Arthur. Wouldn’t you know he was a namesake for a great king? He then asked, would I like to dance. I forced myself to look up, just a tiny peek before I declined. Looking into the most beautiful eyes…hazel I think it’s called, sometimes green, sometimes brown. I am lost. He’s holding out his hand and without speaking I put my hand in his and he led me to the dance floor.

The band had begun playing a waltz and Arthur smoothly led me into the dance. I guess we chat about small things. He asked where I worked in the company and then tells me he’s part of the law firm that my company retains. He tells me about his mother and four siblings. Suddenly he asked me if I intended to look at him at all before the dance was over. I realized I had been staring at his crisp white shirted chest the entire time. My eyes snap up to his face to find he was smiling…..

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs, September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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It’s easy. Use this link  http://www.writeratplay.com/ to sign up for my See the box on the right hand side? 

You’ll receive (in an email) weekly posts with the latest book reviews, tips about creative writing, and once a month an in-depth Interview with a best selling author or a new, upcoming writer.  Generous folks, famous and not so much (yet) have given of their time to answer my probing questions about their writing process. Fun and interesting candid photos, of the author, are sprinkled throughout the interview. 

Sometimes a post about something I thought was interesting…..But, ALWAYS to do with books, authors, writing, words, and live theatre.

My best selling post (over the past six years) has been my free tips about ‘How To Write a Play’. Thousands of people have Googled this phrase and come to my website to begin to learn this craft.

When I’m not busy with my blog, I am writing….every day. I practice what I preach! 
Short plays for the classroom, general fiction, children’s plays and fairy tales,  poetry and a true crime mystery series. Diversity is the
spice of life!  
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How To Write a Play, The Arc

What is a story arc, you ask.  The dictionary defines a story arc as ‘(in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme’. Story arcs are the overall shape of rising and falling tension or emotion in a story. This rise and fall is created via plot and character development.

A strong storytelling arc follows this principle. It shows rise and fall, cause and effect, in a way that makes sense. An example is from one of my stage plays, Women Outside the Walls. Right before intermission, my antagonist, Charlie (an inmate) took the entire visiting room hostage, with a knife. Who wouldn’t want to come back (after intermission) to see what happens next?

It is my belief that the story’s arc, in a stage play, should happen right before the intermission. More people than you can guess will leave at the intermission. So my theory is to ‘hook’ them and make your audience want to come back in and sit down.

 

A whole should have a beginning, middle and an end… A well constructed plot … must neither begin nor end at haphazard.’ Aristotle

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Nostalgia… (#12)

Martin Short, (famous actor on SNL, career included dozens of movies) was recently interviewed where he told a charming story. He, Gilda Radner, Paul Shaffer were born (as actors) at ‘Second City’, Toronto.  In the early days, Martin was in a community theatre production of Fortune & Men’s Eyes. The director told the actors that, as the audience came in and took their seats, the actors would be pacing on stage, in a prison setting. In character, wearing only their underwear.

Paul Shaffer, most famous for years with Letterman

 

Fortune & Men’s Eyes

 

Gilda (whom Martin was dating at the time 1972), Paul and some other pals all planned to go see Martin one night. But, as the story goes, the thing Paul Shaffer was really excited about was they would all go for dinner after at the Shakespeare Steakhouse.

So on the night of the performance, Martin’s friends arrived and Paul, upon seeing Martin pacing, moved up the lip the of the stage and whispered, “Martin, Shakespeare  Steakhouse is closed, wink once if Bavarian Seafood makes sense.” 

John Sugarek, actor

 

 

 

This type of crazy thing happens all the time in live theatre. Short’s story brought to mind the time that my husband played Dr. Miranda, (a murderous ex-Nazi) in Death and the Maiden (a part that Ben Kingsley is famous for). Our theatre was so small that it didn’t have a curtain.  Since Dr. Miranda is held hostage and tied up for most of the play, it meant that my husband, John, remained on stage, in character and tied up during intermission. With audience members coming and going.  Actually, he volunteered as there was no logical way to get him untied and offstage. 

During intermission, a trio of white-haired senior ladies came tripping down the aisle and neared the edge of the stage. John (said later) prayed that they were not

Death and the Maiden

Ben Kingsley & Sigourney Weaver

going to speak to him.  They moved as close to him as they could and one of the dear old things winked and said to him, in a stage-whisper, “Psst! Psst! Mister! Do you want us to untie you?” Giggling and twittering they turned and found their seats again. John stayed in character but it was hard not to burst out laughing.

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Black vs White vs Brown ~ A New Ten Minute PLay

    Ethnic groups have polarized and bullied each other for years, out on the street.  Recently, teens have taken to their cell phones and computers to do the same. Blacks against whites against browns. All good kids at their core, but divided by the color of their skin.

#32 in the series of short plays for the classroom.

This series has been very popular, over the years, with teachers and students. Sets, costumes, props are not needed. Most pertain to real life issues for teens so these plays are meant to open a dialogue between teens and their teachers. Or, at the very least, to experience live theatre. 

All ‘G’ rated so no adult content. When profanities are used, as teens do in real life, they are optional and can be easily eliminated. 

Available at www.amazon.com and all other fine book stores.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy ~~ April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.
                                                                                   
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How To Format A Screenplay

TS.  ‘ACTION drives a screenplay, that and plot.  DIALOGUE drives a stage play so it better be damn good. In my opinion, if your action is good in a screenplay, the dialogue can be mediocre and often is in blockbusters. If your dialogue is crisp and interesting and helps drive the story, you’ve done a better job than most in Hollywood.’ 

While you can buy books and software to do the job for you it’s always good to have a grasp of the general spacing standards. The top, bottom and right margins of a screenplay are 1″. The left margin is 1.5″. The extra half-inch of white space to the left of a script page allows for binding with brads, yet still imparts a feeling of vertical balance of the text on the page. The entire document should be single-spaced.

The very first item on the first page should be the words FADE IN:. Note: the first page is never numbered. Subsequent page numbers appear in the upper right hand corner, 0.5″ from the top of the page, flush right to the margin.

Screenplay Elements

Below is a list of items (with definitions) that make up the screenplay format, along with indenting information. Again, screenplay software will automatically format all these elements, but a screenwriter must have a working knowledge of the definitions to know when to use each one.

Scene Heading
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A scene heading is a one-line description of the location and time of day of a scene, also known as a “slugline.” It should always be in CAPS.

Example: EXT. WRITERS STORE – DAY reveals that the action takes place outside The Writers Store during the daytime.

Subheader
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

When a new scene heading is not necessary, but some distinction needs to be made in the action, you can use a subheader. But be sure to use these sparingly, as a script full of subheaders is generally frowned upon. A good example is when there are a series of quick cuts between two locations, you would use the term INTERCUT and the scene locations.

Action
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

The narrative description of the events of a scene, written in the present tense. Also less commonly known as direction, visual exposition, blackstuff, description or scene direction.

Remember – only things that can be seen and heard should be included in the action.

Character
Indent: Left: 2.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 4.0″

When a character is introduced, his name should be capitalized within the action. For example: The door opens and in walks LIAM, a thirty-something hipster with attitude to spare.

A character’s name is CAPPED and always listed above his lines of dialogue. Minor characters may be listed without names, for example “TAXI DRIVER” or “CUSTOMER.”

Dialogue
Indent: Left: 1.0″ Right: 1.5″ Width: 3.5″

Lines of speech for each character. Dialogue format is used anytime a character is heard speaking, even for off-screen and voice-overs. Normal upper and lower case is used.

Parenthetical
Indent: Left: 1.5″ Right: 2.0″ Width: 2.5″

A parenthetical is direction for the character, that is either attitude or action-oriented. With roots in the playwriting genre, today, parentheticals are used very rarely, and only if absolutely necessary. Why? Two reasons. First, if you need to use a parenthetical to convey what’s going on with your dialogue, then it probably just needs a good re-write. Second, it’s the director’s job to instruct an actor on how to deliver a line, and everyone knows not to encroach on the director’s turf!

Extension
Placed after the character’s name, in parentheses

An abbreviated technical note placed after the character’s name to indicate how the voice will be heard onscreen, for example, if the character is speaking as a voice-over, it would appear as LIAM (V.O.).

Transition
Indent: Left: 4.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 2.0″

Transitions are film editing instructions, and generally only appear in a shooting script. Transition verbiage includes:

  • CUT TO:
  • DISSOLVE TO:
  • SMASH CUT:
  • QUICK CUT:
  • FADE TO:

As a spec script writer, you should avoid using a transition unless there is no other way to indicate a story element. For example, you might need to use DISSOLVE TO: to indicate that a large amount of time has passed.

Shot
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A shot tells the reader the focal point within a scene has changed. Like a transition, there’s rarely a time when a spec screenwriter should insert shot directions. Once again, that’s the director’s job. 

Sample of what your page should look like:  [Source: The Writer’s Digest]

 

 

 

other related posts by this blogger:
How To Write a Play
How To Format a Play
How To Format a Novel

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: in60Learning ~ A unique, non-fiction mini-book read in 60 minutes.
                                                                                   
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Chuck Lorre…Vanity Blog (The Big Bang Theory)

writing, blogs, blogger, comedy, Chuck Lorre, iconic televisionChuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, (Young Sheldon, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men and numerous movies) has been writing vanity blogs way before the word ‘blog‘ was coined.  If you have a ‘pause’ button on your remote, it’s certainly worth a read. It appears at the very end of each episode, after the credits and ‘Coming next week‘ stuff. 

VANITY CARD #579

“When I was a little boy I was constantly worried about myself and my family being killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills and hiding in underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. (Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket, take off your glasses, look away from the window, find a buddy, hold hands, no talking, walk quickly to the basement, get on your knees, place your head against the wall, wait for the all-clear signal, hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.) Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. But like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always there, lurking in the background. Until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others, found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic system. Until now. Now the wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts, like: “I hope someone reminds him that he can’t play golf in a Hazmat suit.”

And now, as if his brilliance couldn’t reach higher heights, there’s spin-off show when Sheldon was a kid living in conservative, Bible-belt, Texas. If you love Sheldon in Big Bang, and we all do, you will adore this nerdy little kid (played by Iain Armitage) who’s smarter than anyone in his ‘little kid orb’.  It might take you a show or two to realize the clever, subtle writing in this show when it appears to be so broad and red-neck, but trust me it really is our adored (grown-up) Sheldon as a kid.
My second favorite actor is the Mom, Mary. Played by Zoe Perry you’d swear it was Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s grownup Mom) when she was younger.  And then there’s Annie Potts. Remember her from Designing Women and Ghost Busters? She’s back as Sheldon’s Memaw (grandmother) and is a riot!!!

But I digress, just a little bit. Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards aka blog: I will never come close to his writing talent. But I can try. I can encourage others to try. And I can simply sit back and enjoy Lorre’s genius just for the sake of genius! 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
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John Lithgow….and His Stories

     “…and that’s why we all need stories.”  John Lithgow said in a recent talk show interview.  He was telling the story of his father reading, to he and his siblings, from a book of short stories.  And then years later, as his father lay dying, John Lithgow said he read aloud to him from the very same book. 

John tells another story, within his story about reading this book of shorts to his father.  He has been on the road with this one-man show for years.  Narrating these same stories from this same book.  He calls it a trunk show; an old theatre expression. That is, pack up everything at night’s end and move, on down the road, to the next town where he presents this one-night-stand again.  He says that he finally wound his way to Broadway and is now  performing to sold-out, delighted audiences. 

This is why I entreat, beg, admonish, and plead with my readers to tell someone your story (hopefully your children and grandchildren), or write it down in a journal or even publish it. With today’s technology we are losing our oral history. And when this set of grandparents pass away it will all be lost. We all need stories. 

“Rarely have I spent so entertaining and touching a night at the theater. The predominant sentiment in Stories by Heart is love.” —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb, illuminating and uplifting. The imagination, Mr. Lithgow wants us to know, is powerful. What could feel more current, more worthwhile in the first days of 2018?” —Jesse Green, The New York Times

This is me telling a story about John Lithgow’s story.  
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                                                                   
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How To Format Your (Self-published) Stage Play

TS.   Now that the traditional publishers have turned you down, file away that rejection letter,  soothe your fragile writer’s ego with a hot cup of tea, some chocolate, or whatever and self-publish your play. 

 It’s important to know that the correct way to format a stage play for submitting (to a publisher, agent or theatre) is very different from the format used when publishing it. Below is a sample of the correct formatting. 

List of  Characters:  I noticed that in the Dramatists Play Service scripts, they do not list the ages of the characters.  I always provide the buyer (producer, director, etc.) the ages of the characters for ease of casting.  I know from experience that a director wants to have this information immediately when choosing a play.  What if they don’t have an eighty-year old, male who can act?  Make-up can only go so far!  Ethnicity is rarely listed but there are exceptions. But, generally, no. What if the director has a different vision for casting?

Sample: 

CAST OF CHARACTERS      (Place on the 3rd or 4th page after title, playwright’s name, Copyright notices.etc.)

Emilee. Age 13, a pubescent girl making decisions

Danny. Age 14, Emilee’s first boyfriend

Maribeth. Age 22, Emilee’s older sister

Emilee’s best friends

Ruth. Age 13. The timid one
Barb. Age 14. The bold one
Sue.   Age 14. The worrier

SETTING
A park bench. Middle School. Emilee’s house. 
TIME
Present day. 

Format Sample:

(From my published short play, “No Means NO!”© ) The formatting of the Dramatist Play Service (publishers) do use parentheses when formatting the blocking. It is jumbled into dialogue even though it does not pertain to that particular character’s ‘action’.  I find this very distracting but I am certain it has to do with production costs and keeping the page count down. Blocking direction is indented, italicized and in parentheses. Line spacing is 1.15 instead of single-spaced. Character’s names are all in CAPS and not italicized. Before dialogue, Characters’ names are all in CAPS with a period. Blocking is indented. Scene breaks should be on the next (right) page. There are no extra line-spaces between blocking and dialogue except if there is a ‘beat’ when the same character pauses. Be certain to leave plenty of white space for the actors/director’s written notes. I prefer the format used by (my publisher) Samuel French, Inc. which you see below:

                                           Scene 1 

Setting: A neighborhood park near a middle-school. Mid-afternoon.

                    (EMILEE and DANNY are seated on a bench. THEY are sitting upstage
                    with their backs to audience and 
are kissing. 
                    DANNY begins to fondle EMILEE. SHE pushes HIS hands away.)

EMILEE. No! Cut it out Danny!
DANNY. (Stopping.) I want you, Emilee. Stop being such a tease.
EMILEE. (Holding both of his wrists.) I don’t want to.

                     (DANNY begins to kiss her again. HE starts to touch her again.
                     Jumping up,
SHE yells at HIM.)

EMILEE. I said ‘No’! I don’t want you to do that!
DANNY. I thought you loved me?
EMILEE. I do.
DANNY. Okay then.

                    (DANNY pulls HER down on to the bench. HE begins to kiss
                     and fondle
EMILEE again.)

EMILEE. (Jumping up and crossing several steps away.) Stop it, Danny!

                    (SHE rushes off stage left.)

DANNY. (Rising and calling after her.) Em! I love you!

Scene 2   (New page)

Setting: Emilee’s home.

                   (SUE, RUTH and BARB are laughing and talking.
                   EMILEE is not participating.)

SUE. (Noticing her friend.) What’s wrong, Em? You sick?
EMILEE. No. Nothing.
BARB. Come on, ‘fess up. We’ve known you since first grade. What’s the matter?
RUTH. You can tell us. You know that, right?
EMILEE. (Sighing.) It’s Danny.
RUTH. Ugh! Boys!

                   (THEY laugh except EMILEE.)

SUE. Whad’ he do?
BARB. Yeah, what? We’ll beat him up for you.
EMILEE. (Laughing tearfully.) He…he wants to do stuff.
SUE. They all do.
BARB. Comes with dating, Em. They’re all dogs.
RUTH. Yeah.
EMILEE. But, I don’t wanna.
SUE. What?
EMILEE. You know…stuff. (Beat.) And I’m afraid that if I don’t, he’ll break up with me.
SUE. Yeah, there’s that.
BARB. Just do it. It’s not so bad if you close your eyes.

                 (The GIRLS who are sexually active giggle.)

RUTH. Do what?
SUE. Jimmy wanted me to kiss him…down there.
RUTH. Why?
EMILEE. I’m not doing that!
BARB. (Blurts out.) I’m having sex with Arnie.

                 (The GIRLS scream.)

SUE. No, you’re not!
BARB. Am too.
RUTH. Barbara J. Masters! I’m telling your Mom!
BARB. No you’re not, Ruthie. Remember our pledge.
SUE. I’m not having sex until I’m sixteen, at least. My parents promised me a car if I will abstain…their word…until I’m sixteen.
BARB. Car trumps a boyfriend any day.
SUE. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do other stuff.
RUTH. Barbie, you’re using a condom, right?
BARB. Arnie doesn’t like them.
RUTH. But you have to.
EMILEE. I don’t want to do any of it. And Danny keeps after me every time we’re alone. What should I do?

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How To Write a Play Journal ~~ To Purchase
How to Create a Tantalizing Book Cover 

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This new, exciting, instructional book is a sharing of over twenty+ years of experience. This writer has honed  her craft of creative writing.

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How To Format a Stage Play  Click Here
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DON’T MISS MY BLOG with twice-weekly posts.  Also featuring INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS! with me once a month . We shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!

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