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What Other Writers are Saying…

TS. I am currently developing a new journal for creative writers who are or want to be writing plays. If my fans and readers are familiar with my journals, it is traditional for me to embed quotes from other writers, authors, actors, directors, etc., into the blank pages of the journal. These are meant to inspire the owner of the journal with their own story writing.

Louis L’Amour

So I am always looking for new quotes as I hand pick every one when considering them for my journals. Here are what other writers have said about the joys (and heartbreak) of being a writer.


“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway 

Mary Y-Arr

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Y-Arr


“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence.” N.R. Hart 

MJ Bush

“Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.” MJ Bush 

“We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Anais Nin

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has but not by you.” Asha Dornfest 

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Stephen King

Stephen King

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” Holley Gerth


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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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Motivational Moments…for Writers and their Partners #38


This was just tooo good not to share! As a writer, I will tell you that it’s good, no, great advice if you are involved with a writer.

Okay, all laughs aside….seriously….if you are the significant other to a writer you are one of my HEROES!!   When we are writing and you try to talk to us,  we are not being rude by not answering you, we don’t mean to be neglectful, we don’t mean to hurt your feelings.  We simply don’t hear you.….when we are deep into the zone we aren’t even in the same room or house with you…we are in the world of our story, if we are lucky.

This, in fact, is one of the questions I ask the authors that I interview. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long? And they have all reported back that yes they get lost in the story and in their characters.

So if you give the writer in your life some slack, bring them a cup of coffee but don’t speak, quietly close the door to their ‘writing space’  you are a true supporter to that writer.


A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”– Sidney Sheldon

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”
– Anton Chekhov

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

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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?


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

A park bench. Middle School. Emilee’s house. 
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?
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?


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


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
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!

Order here!

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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Pumping Out Experiments


Mean.GirlsBookCoverImageI want to talk about a few of experiments that I have pumped out over the past few years.  Five years ago I published an eclectic collection of ten minute plays. At that time, it was all the rage for theatre companies to produce them, usually in a group for an evening’s entertainment.  The ‘G’ rated short plays in the collection were very popular with young actors and educators. This  experiment did pretty well; sales plunked along at a decent rate. Then I had another brain storm (oh, no! not another one).

Since teachers have NO budget for the arts, why not write and publish individual short plays for the classroom.  Small casts, no set, no costumes.  And CHEAP!

Love.Bruises.BookCoverImage           The experiment:  I wrote two and published them on amazon.com.  Within a week, they began to fly off the shelves. It’s several years later and there are now twenty-seven of these short plays.  Twenty of them deal with real life issues for today’s teen.

I had been toying with the idea of publishing a Journal for Creative Writing. I had noticed that the post most frequently visited on my blog was ‘How To Write A Play‘.  I decided to turn the journal into a handbook about writing.  Maintaining the 275 blank pages for the writer’s work, I added tips on how to write a play, poetry, fiction, how to get started (that first sentence) and more.

Have all my experiments been an over-night hit?  No…failure must be the spur to achieving more. Some of my ideas have been abysmal rejects.  But indie publishing is very economical so why not try? And indie publishing opens other doors.  1.Creative.Write.BookCoverImage

It all begins with trying, with an experiment.   Who would have guessed that my ‘little play books’ would take off like they have.  So don’t be afraid to experiment with a writing idea.  What have you got to lose?



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The Wedding Crasher * A New Short Play

Wedding.Crasher.Cover.doNot long ago I heard this true story.  Inspiration struck and I dashed to my computer and began typing a new 10 minute play.

Synopsis: This can’t be happening on Susie’s wedding day. It’s a girl’s dream wedding and everything is perfect. That is until a small plane suddenly circles the venue and her ex-boyfriend jumps out and begins his descent, trails of smoke shooting out of the heels of his boots. Susie and her father are just pulling up to the dockside in a white festooned boat, to where her groom and two hundred guests are waiting.

For the father of the bride, it’s the last straw. He reaches for a flare gun, and before Susie can react, fires it into the air. Unfortunately for the sky diver, flare guns cannot be aimed. The flare hits the parachute and ignites it. Chute blazing away, Susie’s ex plummets into the wedding tent. Unscathed, he struggles to free himself of parachute and lines. The wedding cake and various food trays have not fared so well. Will the wedding proceed as the police take the heartbroken suitor away? 1f. 4m.

I hope you find this story as hilarious as I did!

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What Inspired Me to Write a Play? part 2

Let’s see, where did we leave off?  As you can see by now truth is sometimes stranger than fiction….why make stuff up when the true stories are just standing there in front of you…waiting for you to write a play about them?  Or not….because about this time Cheets, the effervescent elf came into my life! 

greed, ecology, elves, warlords, love, friendshipThe Fabled Forest Series‘ was brought to me by my friend, Cheets, about three in the morning to be exact.  He put his over-sized elf feet in the middle of my back and pushed.  Yelling in my ear,  ‘Cheets has a story….write about Cheets!’
By the time I crawled out of bed, made a cup of tea and stumbled to my keyboard he was skipping along beside me, telling me about his friends in the fabled forest and about the unicorn that they must save.  No, I’m not crazy  (or if I am, I’m in very good company)  and yes I do hear voices (again, good company).  A few years and four children’s plays later ‘Emma and the Lost Unicorn‘ was produced outside of Boston.  The little actors in the show pleaded with me to write them story books based upon the plays.  That was my launch from playwright to author.
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