Lessons For Writing From Acting

I was just working on a play called Mother of the Maid by Jane Anderson at Pygmalion Theatre. For me, acting is a completely different gear than writing. In some ways, it’s paradoxically more interior — in the sense that, while I’m acting, I’m more likely to meditate, to think about my mental health, and […]

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On Tension

I’ve started working on a collaborative, non-traditional theatre piece. It’s “non-traditional” because only two-thirds of it will be narrative drama. The rest will be narrative poetry, (fun) scientific discourses, and living newspaper. On my morning walk, though, I reminded myself that tension is as important to non-narrative as it is to narrative kinds of writing. […]

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The Two Skills of Writing

An email exchange with a friend about my work-in-progress reminded me that writing is made up of two interrelated skills. There’s facility for language, and then there’s facility for storytelling itself. Ideally, both of these skills get marshaled into one’s work. But if only one can be marshaled, then I think you’re better off with […]

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Don’t Do Stupid Sh*t

In many of my writing journals, I have the sentence “Don’t do stupid sh*t” written above my notes for WIPs. It’s admittedly self-deprecating, but I often mean it with humor. The thing is, even when you’ve been writing for years, it’s still tempting to take shortcuts or ignore the rules, thinking you can Make It […]

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On Writing & Ego

Yesterday, I felt myself flinching away from life. I was sitting outside on my back patio. It was a clear, cold afternoon. Just cold enough to be uncomfortable. I was shaking. But it wasn’t dangerous or even unpleasant. The pines and vinca and crocuses were calling to me. Since I began working from home in […]

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Story Values

A writing concept I continue to be enamored by is the concept of values. I suppose story values could be rolled up into the concept of theme, but I think it’s worth mentally separating the two, because values connect deeply to character, going right into their motivations. Expressed well, a story’s theme also ties into […]

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Getting Better

A line of thinking I continually revisit is how to improve my writing. It’s a multifaceted topic, and could be broken down into dozens of tantalizing subtopics. Tone. Twists. Master plot types. Genre expectations and how to subvert them. Creating sympathetic characters. The importance of surprise. The need for contrast or rhythm. But I think […]

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A bearded man in profile snarls at a microphone.

Antagonists

Of the many qualities that antagonists have in my favorite stories, I most enjoy the qualities of outsiderness, relatability, and integrity. That is, I like to watch antagonists (or actual villains) who perceive themselves as fundamentally different — whether it’s true or not that they are — who seem like me or someone I know, […]

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Word Processor Wish List

There’s no word processing software dedicated to playwriting. There are several screenwriting apps that have stage play templates, but they’re somewhat inadequate. Over the years, I’ve used: (here goes) Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, FadeIn, Celtx, and Highland. I’ve also written plays in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and Libre Office (Writer). I’ve written one rough draft […]

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The Mormon Kid

In the introduction to THE MORMON KID — playing through November 12th at the USU Eastern Black Box in Price — the outlaw of Matt Warner tells the audience, “There’s lies, damn lies, and history.” It’s a spin on the aphorism popularized by Mark Twain, which is usually rendered as, “There are three kinds of […]

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