Writing is a lonely profession. Like most writers I write alone, I edit alone and while waiting for a response to my manuscripts I feel very alone. I have had many pieces published and the only applause I heard when the books or magazines arrived on my doorstep was the slapping sound of my feet on the floor as I jumped up and down in delight. Occasionally, I am given the opportunity to speak about my writing or to do a reading from one of my stories and then I receive the warm adulation of applause. Applause is nice. It is motivating, and it is addictive! I have a confession to make. Although I love writing, I think I love applause even better and I have found a way to get even more of it.
A few years ago my church's teen drama group was in need of a script. I had been told that I write dialogue well and since plays are primarily dialogue I felt it was something I could do to help out. I agreed I would write one play. The performance was delightful and except for a few of the actors forgetting their lines it was a thrill to see my words come to life on the stage. In the audience I found myself mouthing each memorized word and cringing when a performer botched his lines. I had to keep myself from prematurely laughing at the anticipated antics that I had typed into the script, but the real thrill was at the end when the teens took their final bow and the audience clapped. Applause. Just like when I received my first byline, I was hooked.
I expanded my play writing service to other churches and to community theaters and have since seen over 30 of my plays performed both throughout the Phoenix valley and in California. Recently, I began submitting to competitions and in January 2013, I won my first international playwright award.
If a writer wants to enter play writing competitions he or she will want to keep the following tips in mind.
• Google “playwright competitions” or “play writing contests.” I found my first contest in my local newspaper.• Read the guidelines that they provide and follow them to the letter. If a certain prop needs to be included in the play, write it in. Most competitions will not accept plays that have already been performed elsewhere.
• Only enter contests that allow you to retain all rights to your play. If your script is a finalist you can expect it to be performed one or more times during the performance month without remuneration before it is returned to you. Then you are free to market it elsewhere.• There is usually an entry fee to submit your script. The entry fees create the prize money that is paid to the winning playwrights.
• Use a software that properly formats your script. Celtx.com is a free software that you can download.• Send your entry in well before the deadline so that the judges can read and evaluate your script without being rushed.
If like me you would love to hear applause for your work, write a play. It is the best of both worlds, you get to write and perfect the script at your leisure and when it is produced you get to see the characters you envisioned come to life. Finally, when you stand to applaud the actors, you know that some of that applause is for you.I'd love to know, what is the scene in your book that can be told completely through dialog? You may have a play in the making!
Lindy Schneider is an award-winning playwright, the co-author and illustrator of Amazon best selling children's book, Starfish on the Beach, as well as More Money in Tough Times and soon to be released Cash for Creatives. Many of her stories have been published in the NY Times best selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.www.LindysBooks.com