Tag Archives: plays

The Way you Tell ‘em

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Jokes! Jokes are a great source of plot ideas. A writer gave me this tip years ago and it has served me well.

Jokes are plots in miniature. Stories sealed up and ready to go. You’ve got your beginning, middle, end, your conflict, your characters – flaws and all. All you’ve got to do is flesh it out. Expland on it. Change gender and setting if possible. And no, it doesn’t have to be funny because many jokes (indeed, stories) need an element of tragedy to make comedy (and vice vearsa) and you can just crank up the aspect you want to emphasize.

Here’s a joke that gave me an idea for a radio play I once wrote “The Angel of Trafadden” (see urls to podcasts listed on sidebar)

“It was Ryan’s funeral and the pallbearers were carrying the casket out from the church. When they bumped into a pillar, one of them heard a moan from inside the coffin. They opened the lid and found Ryan alive. He lived for another ten years before he properly died. Another funeral was held for him and, as the pallbearers were carrying out the coffin, Mrs Ryan shouted “Now, watch out for that pillar!”

OK, it’s the way ya tell ‘em… But the point is that they don’t have to be the funniest jokes – just so long as there is a story in there, a universal truth with which your readers will react and engage. Wordplay/puns won’t work so well, go for the story…

Here’s another one you can chew on for a story idea (it used to go down well in the creative writing classes I taught in an English prison…)

The defendant knew he didn’t have a prayer of beating the murder rap, so he bribed one of the jurors to find him guilty of manslaughter. The jury was out for days before they finally returned a verdict of manslaughter. Afterward the defendant asked, ‘How come it took you so long?’ the juror said, ‘All the others wanted to acquit’.

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IMAGINATIONSHIP at the FINBOROUGH Now Showing

IMAGINATIONSHIP has sold out four of the remaining six performances already! Please book your tickets asap if you’re planning on coming to see my new play at the Finborough Theatre , London.

Directed by Tricia Thorns, the play is set in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. 59-year-old Ginnie attempts to seduce her unrequited love, the nymphomaniac Brenda. Attila is from Hungary but has ended up scraping an existence in Yarmouth – and pursues Melody who is obsessed with her commitment phobic evening-class tutor, Tony. Power-plays and relationships clash until a seduction too far leads to mass murder.

Set in this marginalised Brexit town, Imaginationship explores obsession, sex addiction, and the devastating effect of imbalanced relationships, not least between immigrants and locals, London and the regions.

imaginationship eflyer 4

BOOK HERE

Featuring:

Joanna Bending – Melody

Jilly Bond – Ginnie

Atilla Akinci – Gediminas

John Sackville – Baz

Bart Suavek – Attila

Patience Tomlinson – Brenda

Rupert Wickham – Tony


It’s How I Roll, baby

writing woman

I’m at my professional best when I’m stressed, with a to-do list in hand and no time to take a break.

We all work in different ways. Some writers need planning and easy, soft pacing. My approach is broad stroke, manic, if slightly anarchic – but I get stuff done. Likewise, we all perform better at different times of the day. Many writers keep their notepad by their beds and make sure that the very first thing they do when they open their eyes each morning, is write, hoping the dream state will have left a creative legacy. The resultant notes are called “morning pages”. Morning pages might contain what a writer remembers of their dreams or perhaps the writer will simply jot down the very first words that come to mind that day. There are writers who say that this exercise helps them ‘slip’ more easily into what writers’ call the “rapture” when a writer feels ideas are pouring into their mind from elsewhere.

Just as the waking moments are a bridge from the sleeping state into sober reality – the hour before you go to bed is often a creative time with the brain slipping into that semi conscious state.  Hence there are plenty of writers who write late at night.

And to show that there are no rules, there are other writers who find their most productive hours are in the middle of the day when all of life’s busyness is in full swing (the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is a good example. She wrote her first book in a busy Edinburgh café).

What is important is that you write and that you find your ideal writing time. Experiment. Find what works for you and then set an hour aside each day at that time and write. Likewise, writers have very personal tastes regarding an environment conducive to writing. There are those who like music or TV buzz in the background and those who can only write in silence. Manic or meditative, find whatever works for you.


Have A Go…

Writing Competitions with a February/March deadline:

Let spring in...

Right, that’s January out of the way – a month where one recovers from Christmas. In fact, I’ve always found it a rather silly month in which to make plans and resolutions, as one doesn’t feel like doing much when it’s brass monkeys outside. February, however, is a different matter. In Ireland, February 1st, St. Bridget’s Day, is the first of spring. There’s not a helluva lot of differnce between winter and spring (or indeed summer) in Ireland – but it is the concept that is important. On February 1st, I get moving again.

And, if I’m moving, I’ve got to enter some comps. So, let’s have a look at competitions with deadlines running up until the end of March. You’ll notice that many of these are Irish competitions, this is partly because, obviously, I’m Irish and these are the comps I know of, but also because the short story and story telling is held in such esteem in Ireland, it’s got to have more writing contests per square foot than any other district of the universe. However, if you have information regarding prizes, contests or awards with a deadline before March 31st, running in your country  – please feel free to add/comment.

Finally, please note that I’m merely collating information posted elsewhere on the Internet. I am not responsible for or affiliated with any of these competitions and have no more information than that on the website listed. Please do not send your entries to me and please do not write to ask about the specifics of individual contests. I won’t know. It’s best to go to the website address provided and inquire there.

And good luck!!!

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

Prize: £500 plus a place on an Arvon course

Entry Fee: n/a

Deadline: February 14th 2012.

Website: http://www.writersandartists.co.uk

 

Irish Post/Stena Line Writing Competition

Prize: £500 & free travel to Listowel Writers’ Festival in Co. Kerry.

Entry Fee: £n/a

Deadline: 2nd March 2012

Website: http://www.irishpost.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100

NOTE: Only open to Irish/Irish descent resident in Britain (ie the theme concerns the Irish immigrant experience in the UK).

The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition

Prize: €2,000

Entry Fee: €10.00

Deadline: 2nd March 2012

Website: http://writersweek.ie/the-bryan-mcmahon-short-story-competition

The Writers’ Week Originals Competition

Prize: €750

Entry Fee: €10.00

Deadline: 2nd March 2012

Website: http://writersweek.ie/writers-week-originals-competition

 

The Eamon Keane Full Length Play Competition

Prize: €500

Entry Fee: €20.00

Deadline: 2nd March 2012

Website: http://writersweek.ie/eamon-keane-full-length-play

 

Twisted Stringybark Short Story Award 2012

Prize: $300 AUS plus publication

Entry Fee: $9.75 AUS

Deadline: 4th March 2012

Website: http://www.stringybarkstories.net/The_Stringybark_Short_Story_Award

 

Cúirt New Writing Prize 2012

Prize: €500

Entry Fee: €10

Deadline: 5th March 2012

Website: http://www.cuirt.ie/component/content/article/3-newsflash/70-cuirt-new-writing-prize-2012

 

Limnisa / Bluethumbnail SHORT STORY Competition

Prize: One week full board writers’ retreat at LIMNISA

Entry Fee: £6

Deadline: March 15th, 2012

Website: http://www.bluethumbnail.com/Author/competitionpage.html

 

Mslexia 2012 Women’s Short Story Competiton

Prize: £2,000

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: 19th March 2012

Website: http://mslexia.co.uk

 

Molly Keane Memorial Creative Writing Award (I won this last year!)

Prize: €500

Entry Fee: n/a

Deadline: 26th March 2012

Website: http://www.mollykeanewritersretreats.com/2012writingaward.htm

 

PJ O’Connor Radio Drama Awards

Prize: Professional production of the best three 40-minute plays with 5,000 to Winner

Entry Fee: n/a

Deadline: 30th March 2012

Website: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/pjoconnorawards/

 

The Bristol Short Story Prize

Prize: £1,000

Entry Fee: £7

Deadline: March 31st 2012.

Website: http://www.bristolprize.co.uk

 

Plymouth University’s Short Fiction Competition

Prize: £500

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: March 31st 2012.

Website: http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk/

 

The Moth Short Story Prize

Prize: 1,000

Entry Fee: 8

Deadline: March 31st 2012.

Website: http://www.themothmagazine.com

 

The Short Fiction Journal Prize

Prize: £500 plus publication

Entry Fee: £10

Deadline: March 31st 2012.

Website: http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk/competition.html

And finally… not a competition per se, but a chance to have your work published in leading literary magazine. The Stinging Fly are accepting submissions up until March 31st: http://www.stingingfly.org/about-us/submission-guidelines