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How to Write a Ten-Minute Play

The title of this blog post is a little misleading. I can't actually tell you how to write a ten-minute play. I can only tell you how I write ten-minute plays. Everybody's process is going to be different. The way I do it may work for you or it might not.


First a little about my general philosophy of writing. I work from the gut. What that means if I have a feeling that something is going to work, I go with it. If I don't, I move on to something else.


The first thing I need to write a ten-minute play is an idea. The idea must have some kind of spark to it. What I mean by spark is some kind of connection I have to the idea that will give me the motivation to write. Sometimes this is just a feeling about something, or an interest in something, or an experience I've had. For example, my ten-minute play "Parcheesied" is based on an experience I had playing Parcheesi with my Dad, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Things got out of hand and I thought, maybe I can this into a play. That got me started.


The next thing I need to write a ten-minute play is some kind of structure. By structure I mean a sense of a beginning, a middle, and an end. I always find that if I have an end to work towards then the beginning and the middle just fall together naturally. That doesn't mean my plays always end the way I thought they would. Sometimes I am surprised and things go in a different direction. But I find if I have a sense of the end when I begin writing, things tend to go better.


The third thing I need is a sense of the characters. I need to have a fairly clear idea of who they are before I start writing. That includes things like what they care about and what their goals are. This usually happens fairly naturally because most of my characters are based on people I've known or met. That gives me a framework to start from and then my imagination can just take it from there.


Finally, I need a block of time. Generally I write my ten-minute plays in one or two sessions. Once I get on a roll, I'm usually very reluctant to stop. Finding the time to write is probably the toughest ingredient there is, just because it is so precious and hard to come by. If you have a full-time job, kids, and all sorts of other activities going on, you can relate.


What is your writing process? Are you similar to me or completely different?

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