I had never written a play before, 10 minute or otherwise. I found a good website 10-MINUTE-PLAYS.COM which was an excellent resource. The site also offers some examples of Ten Minute plays by some known and unknown playwrights. Some were very good and others I knew I could do better, so that itself was inspiring.
It really did help to read plays I DIDN'T like and try to imagine what a difficult job an actor would have being expected to do something with a lousy script. It made me think about the responsibility the writer has to the actor to provide a character worth getting to know and become, however brief the encounter might be.
The same site also has a short section on Ten Minute Play Structure. I'd like to say I wrote my plays carefully following this guideline but I didn't. I wrote the plays with the flow that felt right to me but then made sure I had all the necessary elements in the rewrite. The point for me was to crank out the story first and then worry about all the structural pieces fitting together after I had a beginning, middle and end.
The other key ingredient to the Ten Minute Play is brevity. Every word must count and there is no place for the unnecessary. I had a hard time with this at first finding myself with a twelve minute play and certain I couldn't cut another word. I was wrong. This is an excellent exercise in editing and forced me to find the words to deliver the same impact while taking up half the white space.
Trying my hand at a Ten Minute Play was a great challenge for me as writing a play is something I never considered. I really enjoyed this exercise and will continue to write plays. One of the plays I wrote is an adaptation of a short story I wrote years ago. I loved the characters in the story (Emma and Miriam) but for some reason the story never quite worked. I realize now my ladies were too big for the page and belonged on the stage.
I thank the NWTC for this opportunity to stretch my cramped writer's hand, and for helping Emma and Miriam find their way home.
February 25, 2009