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New 10 Minute Play, ‘Parkland Requiem’

Requiem: an act or token of remembrance…

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about the mass murders that plague our nation. One day after the horrendous mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal building did I begin writing. 

Synopsis:

This ten minute play for teens (in the classroom) is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The murdered victims:

My character, Mr. Hale is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter,

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

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New Short Play: Drop the Phone

Newest in the collection of ten minute plays for teens and the classroom. 

                        What would happen if you put down your phone for a half an hour and had a real conversation with another human being? Now lets mix it up further; sit down and talk to someone in your class who you don’t really know that well or at all. Are they who you thought they were? Were they surprised about who you are? This one act play, styled for the classroom (no sets, no costumes, no props), has a group of teens who do not tweet, email, Facetime or chat on their mobile devices for one half hour. They must TALK to each other, face to (real) face.  What did you learn about the person? What did you learn about yourself? 

5f. 4m.

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Click here to see all 40 short plays

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Best Seller

 

Jackpot!! My Children’s Play Produced in Ontario, Canada

Euphoria!!  My full length children’s play, The Exciting Exploits of an Effervescent Elf is being produced in Ontario, Canada! 

In this stand alone sequel to “Emma and the Lost Unicorn”, Emma is held captive in Patsy, the Banana Spider’s web.  No one can see her except the irrepressible elf, Cheets.  Everyone in the forest has been searching for Emma to no avail and given his reputation, no one believes Cheets when he claims to have found her. Cheets can see Emma but not hear her through Patsy’s web.  Emma must “act out” vital news concerning the enchanted forest.   Hazard, the Lord of the Underworld is selling the forest to developers.  Emma must not stand in his way!    This fable tells of greed, ecology, friendship, enduring love and justice. 

Most of the characters from “Emma and the Lost Unicorn” [Published by Samuel French] return to this new fable.  New characters include: Thomas, the sea turtle, pedantic but loveable.  Laughter erupts when the audience realizes that he speaks only in nautical expressions and sayings.  Patsy, the spider represents greed.  Rose, Emma’s mother emphasizes maternal devotion and the ability to believe when the magical creatures of the forest reveal themselves to her.  Hazard, Lord of the Underworld reunites with a lost love.  Roles for every child who auditions! fairy tales, children's plays, scripts for kids,riddles for children,unicorns

Returning characters:        
Emma, the earthling girl
                                                Cheets, the elf
                                               Stare, the rhetorical owl
                                                Donald, Emma’s faerie best friend
                                               Cleo, Queen of the Faeries
                                               Handmaidens of the Queen
                                               Assorted faeries and woodland creatures

New characters:                  Patsy, the spider
                                    Hazard, Lord of the underworld
                                    Thomas, the sea faring turtle
 Rose, Emma’s mother

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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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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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The Euphemism Treadmill…

John McWhorter

I recently saw an interview (too short) with John McWhorter, linguist, teacher and author. He spoke of our euphemism treadmill and how it relates to our everyday speech and language. I was fascinated! 

If you follow me, with any regularity, you know that not only is my chief craft writing, but I am also fascinated with words, their origins, our slang, our euphemisms, and colloquialisms. If we step off the euphemism treadmill, or never get on in the first place, we are quickly unplugged by what people around us are saying.  I give you an example:  I recently wrote another play for teens and I thought, ‘opps, I’d better check teen euphemisms/slang just in case it’s changed since I last used such words as: ridiculous, sick, cool, etc.’ Yep! They’d left me in the dust…none of these words were ‘cool’ anymore.  

Teen Slang 2018

Woke – as being aware, and “knowing what’s going on in the community.” It also mentions its specific ties to racism and social injustice.
Bruh–A casual nickname for “bro”

Idts.–I don’t think so
Ngl– not gonna lie
Fam–Their closest friends
GOAT–Acronym for “Greatest of all time!”
TBH–Acronym for “To be honest”
It’s lit–Short for “It’s cool or awesome!”
I’m weak–Short for “That was funny!”
Hundo P–Short for 100% sure or certain
Gucci–Something is good or cool
Squad–Term for their friend group
Bae–Short for “baby.” It’s used as a term of endearment for a significant other such as a girlfriend or boyfriend. As an acronym, it stands for “Before Anyone Else.”
Curve–To reject someone romantically
Low Key–A warning that what they’re saying isn’t something they want everyone to know
Salty–To be bitter about something or someone
Skurt–To go away or leave
Throw shade–To give someone a nasty look or say something unpleasant about them.
Straight fire–Something is hot or trendy
Sip tea–To mind your own business
Thirsty–Being desperate for something

Writers: Be judicious and thoughtful when you use slang or euphemisms in y our writing. It can quickly turn into lazy writing. 

My blog is filled with word craft, origins of words, slang, and euphemisms. My least favorite euphemism is Snap! = a concise, or biting remark was just delivered. And ‘no problem that has replaced ‘you’re welcome’ as the universal response to ‘thank you’.  Hate it!

My favorite will always be the post about Mr. Crapper, the plumber. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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New Children’s Play Released!

Children’s Play  (#5 in the Fabled Forest Series) has been released!  Children’s story book by the same name.

The story is in play form. A one hour children’s play, by the same title, offers a part for every child who auditions. 

New characters are introduce: Barcode and Fiona the two cats. Reginald the Raccoon and his merry band of baby raccoons. And lots of others.

Synopsis: Cheets is looking for an adventure!  The elf had heard about ‘town’. Emma and her mother went all the time but no one from the fabled forest had been there. Cheets was certain it was a magical place and he decided that he must head for Troublesville. He stows away in the car one day and finds himself in busy, noisy streets all alone. He begins his adventure by befriending two cats who live in a house with two humans. Then because of his obsession with carrots, he is captured in a trap and that’s when his adventure no longer is any fun.  6f. 15m. (many roles non-gender)

Recurring characters from the series return to help find Cheets. Don’t miss Cheets’ escapade and daring rescue!  Full color illustrations by Jefferson O’Neal.

 

To preview or Purchase, click here

Story book

Emma and the Lost Unicorn, The Exciting Exploits of an effervescent Elf, and Stanley, the Stalwart Dragon: Go to Samuel French, Inc.

Bertie, the Bookworm and the Bully Boys: Go to: Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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To correctly format your stage play for submitting to publishers, agents, directors click here.  

Look Inside a script: Click Here 
How To Format a Screenplay

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Just Released!  Order here

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

Thirty-five writing tips that include:

That first, all important, sentence
How to develop rich characters
Writer’s Block
Procrastination
Writing process
What Not to Do (when receiving a critique)

….and many more words of encouragement and tips,
Including quotes from successful writers such as yourself. Takes the ‘scary’ out of writing!

How To Write a Play  Click Here
How To Format a Stage Play  Click Here
How to Write a Ten Minute Play

How To Format a Screenplay
How to
Format Your Novel
Want to try writing a ten minute play?  Click here
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How To Format a Stage Play Script (for submitting)

  Format is extremely important.    If you submit your new play to anyone they will not read it if it is not in the proper format. There is software out there that offer auto-format but sadly I have not found one that demonstrates correct formatting. Notice the character names are in CAPS and centered. Setting, Rise and Dialogue are justified left. Single space between character’s name and first line of dialogue. Blocking (action) is indented and double-spaced from the line above. (The playwright gives the characters instructions on when and where to move.  But, keep it short.  Remember there will be a director who has their own ideas of where they want their actors to be.)  If blocking is only one word, place next to character’s name in parentheses.  A ‘beat’ is to enhance the pace of the speech and is in parentheses within the dialogue. Here is a formatting example:

                                           

ACT I
Scene 1   ©

Setting:  A loft studio in Greenwich Village. Late afternoon. There are many paintings but all of the same woman. Large, open windows overlook the street.

At Rise: Monty is standing at his easel. Voices are heard off stage.

                   (MONTY is painting. His clothing is
                    paint smeared.)

VOICE (Off.)

Hey, beautiful!  You’re home early.

                   (Brush in one hand, palette in the other,
                    MONTY crosses up to the windows and peers
                    into the street below. The lilting laughter of a
                    young woman is heard.) 

SAMANTHA (Voice off. teasing.)

Hey, Mr. Murray. Your wife know you’re trying to pick up women in the street?

VOICE (off.) 

No…and don’t you tell on me.  My old woman would give me what for…bothering a young lady like you. 

SAMANTHA (Voice off.)

Your secret is safe with me (beat.)…for a price.  

VOICE (off.)

Oh yeah, what’s that?

SAMANTHA (Voice off.) 

Some fresh bagels from your bakery. 

VOICE (off.)

You got a deal.  I’ll bring them home with me tomorrow.

SAMANTHA (Voice off.)

 Thanks, Mr. Murray!  I’ll look forward to it.  Bye, now. 

VOICE (off.) 

Bye, beautiful.  See you later.  

                   (MONTY’s shoulders slump and he sighs as he watches 
                    Samantha disappear into a building. HE
                    crosses down to his easel.)

MONTY (muttering.) 

Jeez…how can that old guy be so easy with her? (beat.) Monty, you’re pathetic. You can’t even say ‘hello’ to her in the street.  What the hell’s the matter with you?

(end of sample)

Title Page of your script:  Play title and Playwright’s name.  Add contact info on this page if you are submitting to a publisher, agent or theatre. 

Early in the script list your Cast of Characters. Each name should be underlined. Sample:

                                                              Cast of Characters
MONTGOMERY ANDERSON:   29 years old, a reclusive artist.
SAMANTHA SPARKS:                24 years old, an aspiring actress.
DETECTIVE O’ROARKE:           38 years old, a hardened homicide detective. 
(Note: Listing the ages of the characters is very important for casting.)

Place
Greenwich Village, New York City
Current
Summer

 

Leave lots of white space on the page. Actors/Directors will need wide margins in order to write notes and blocking when in production.
Read more about How To Write a Play

Author’s note: This formatting is approved by my publisher, Samuel French, Inc. This is what they expect to see when you submit. 
  Correct FORMAT if you are self-publishing. And, yes, it’s very different!
How to Format a Screenplay
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Just Released!  Order here

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

Thirty-five writing tips that include:

That first, all important, sentence
How to develop rich characters
Writer’s Block
Procrastination
Writing process
What Not to Do (when receiving a critique)

….and many more words of encouragement and tips,
Including quotes from successful writers such as yourself. Takes the ‘scary’ out of writing!

 

Want to try writing a ten minute 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!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  on the home page; enter your email address. I love comments too!  Take the time to write one at the bottom of the post. Thanks!
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To Purchase