For the first time this month I am filled with the exhilarated excitement of a writer who is about to write. Finally! Yippeee! The only irk is I am now days off a deadline and have felt (up until now) empty of ideas.
I know you are supposed to leave your writing before proofreading but everything I do from here relies on speed. I am currently, hurriedly researching (which is where this blog post comes in), I hope to finish writing the first draft tonight, leave it a day, edit – print – proof – print and send… (2 days to achieve edit to polish!)
I believe in passing things forward – now I am researching comedy writing (I will add at this point that previous experience both as an actor and performance writer, in addition to the more recent theatre scriptwriting workshops with Alan Harris back in May/June and my workshop day with Keith Lindsay (in February) have all given me a great foundation to believe that I can have a stab at this challenge).
As you will know from reading my ‘About’ page I have been out of this writing game a long while and fashions change, it is essential to complete a little research before I dive off the high board into an audience of laughing faces!
I thought I would share my findings and some useful websites with you along the way. It also means I can access this message to continue my quest (saves sending numerous linked emails to myself) and it might help you!
PS If any of you are comedy writers please feel free to load the comment boxes with advice, tips, knowledge, success stories and website links you find useful.
Researching the Comedy Monologue:
Monologues are talky by nature. There probably won’t be a lot of action, and events may be told rather than shown. Avoid heading into talking head territory: make sure your characters have some attitude or emotion.
Monologues can be made more interesting if characters play a subtext, so what they’re saying is at odds with what they really think.
Steps I have Already Taken
- Think of the Topic.
- Make sure it matches the requirements of the brief.
- Make sure you know how to set out performance manuscript/ script.
- Mind-map some descriptive words – these will be used to make the performance writing interesting and ensure it makes sense.
- Make descriptive sentences – have a play around – helps develop character voice.
- Draw up a picture (literally if you want to) of your character.
* Who are they?
* What makes them tick?
* How do they feel about what they are telling the audience?
7. Think about how to make it funny. How will it appeal to the audience? Think about who your audience is.
8. Always give the character someone to talk to.
9. And of course the advice that all writers know READ, READ, READ!
I have a book of monologues from my audition days and in addition to devouring this small paperback, I have also searched the internet and read more comedy monologues. You can spot patterns of good writing by doing this – like a detective! (Which if I could stand the sight of blood, is a career I may have considered.)
There are many websites where you find well written monologues and enjoy a few hours reading – this is speed research, so I will leave you with one and encourage you to use a search engine to discover the wonderful world of performance writing.
It really is all about the Character!
Note, I don’t say: “be funny”. Sure, chances are some lines will be hilarious, but what’ll really make people laugh is an accurate character portrayal. The more specific you are with speech patterns, physical embodiment, character arc – the more people will connect. And laugh.
My Tips – based on knowledge and experience from my past, treading the boards and writing for performance- ideas for making your character live, creating the monster!
- Write a character who has a flaw.
- Imagine (or write if you have time) your character into different situations. How do they react?
- Become your character – act them out of the situations – rehearse/stage the monologue – some writers may find it useful to record – others (especially those with no acting experience would rather not risk being discovered as the next ‘You Tube’ sensation!
- Develop some physical or verbal character traits – especially if they cleverly tie into the ‘reveal’ of your writing/monologue/character.
Steps to take before the EDIT
Ask someone to read the script, get there opinion of it – don’t ask a close friend or relative and don’t expect to pester writer contacts without payment. It is important to get a point of view from another perspective. Next, consider how much criticism was constructive and useful and what, if anything you don’t agree with.
I hope these ideas are helpful for some of you I am off to change into the character from the ankle up (Stanislavski would be proud!)