Thursday, February 11, 2016

Out of my comfort zone...

Strokes in the family have a way of upsetting routine. But after the dust settles, you discover the routine returns, if in a different form than before.

Because of the dust-up in the family, writing time and energy has been in short supply recently. Not one to rest on laurels, my usual routine is to finish one book, get it published, and a day or two later, start the next one. Winter Break released just before Christmas - and until last week I hadn't done more than dabble at my writing.

What changed and got me going again? A complete, total change of genre. No, really. As in, not writing novels at all. Not even writing poetry (which I have done before!).

Nope. I'm writing a play.

You heard it here first, folks! 

Many years back I wrote a short story as a challenge to myself: tell the story using only dialogue. No descriptors of any sort, nothing other than the words the characters exchange. I had a lot of fun with it and got some good feedback. Two characters only: John Adams and Hugh White, one of the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

A few years later, I thought about turning that single scene into a play. I added a few characters, wrote a bit more, then set it aside as my erotic romance novels took off. It's been sitting on my computer ever since.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. A local community theatre group holds a reading of new plays every year. The submissions come from all over the country. It's done reader's theatre style and, although some directors of the pieces do opt for a little movement, mostly it's actors on stools reading from a script on a music stand. 

But its a great opportunity for playwrights to hear the scene(s) out loud, their lines spoken by actors who may have a very different interpretation. 

Well, this year, for whatever reason, there weren't many submissions and the group debated about cancelling the readings for this year. Instead, they extended the deadline. I pulled out that old script and said, "Why not?"

There was only one problem: it sucked. Big time. Like majorly bit the big one. It was pedantic and boring...and did I say pedantic? I gave the script to my husband and he was kind in his review. "I think this might make a good play for little kids to read in their Weekly Reader."


But he also said he thought I was starting the story in the wrong place. History tells us John Adams took the case of the British soldiers, defending them from the charges of murder, because he felt it important that the mob mentality not have any place in the colonies. 1770 was before any real talk of independence - most were arguing for the same rights as other British citizens, rights Parliament didn't want to extend to the colonists.

We know Adams for a Patriot - a man who would not only argue for independence, but go on to be our third President. But in 1770, he was a man with a choice. Defend the British? Or let mob rule take over.

And that's the play I've started to write. I threw out most of what I had and started again, this time exploring the terrible crisis of conscience he faced. To defend the soldiers would put his own career in jeopardy. More than his career - his very life and the lives of his wife and children. But to not defend them was to descend into an anarchy he couldn't live with.

Yeah. Finished the first scene this morning and gave it to my husband. He came back ten minutes later and said, "Now you're talking!" Got half of the next scene done as well. Because I'm researching as I go (just ordered what I hope will be a great book on manners of the 18th and 19th century), the writing is slow...but it is progressing.

So my word count for the day was 1476 words - on a play. Wish me luck!

Play safe,

PS. I also just read Finding Fraser, a delightful book by kc dyer. A chick-lit book set in the present day about a woman who chucks it all to travel to Scotland and find her own Jamie Fraser. :)

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