Category Archives: Original Content

Why it’s best not to always listen to writing advice columns

Editor Jennifer Richards is happy to hold her hands hands up and start this piece by acknowledging the irony in writing an advice column about why you shouldn’t listen to advice columns… Hopefully, by the end, we’ll have figured our way out of that Catch 22*

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was five, when I first wrote a short story about best friends living under a tree (riveting I know). Since then, I’ve trolled through all the articles giving all the best advice in how to make this dream come true. In fact, I read so many of these articles, I managed to scare myself off from writing.

Because I didn’t have the time to write every day, or the energy to get up an hour before school/work to write, or the ability to keep a diary, or even to remember to carry a notepad with me wherever I go… And I thought if I can’t even follow these simple tips writers are giving me, what kind of writer am I? It’s better off not to try.

But advice columns aren’t gospel. You could follow every piece of advice ever given on how to be a successful playwright, and still find yourself no further along in your career. It’s unlikely that someone else’s writing rules are going to be the exact fit for you. Because writing is a creative profession, and there’s no one way, and definitely no right way, to ‘be a writer’.

I became so obsessed with the idea of writing every day so I would ‘be a writer’, I started working on a story in my phone notes every morning on the bus ride to work. Then my phone broke.

And because I had been squeezing in writing when I really wasn’t concentrating on it, I hadn’t had the chance to back up what I had been doodling down on my phone.  So the story was gone.

Though, truth be told, the terrible plot I had been writing about an alien with a pet demon dog probably wasn’t worth saving… I produce much better work when I have creativity strike, rather than forcing it into a bus ride and subsequently inducing travel sickness.

But you might be someone who loves writing a bit every day, or maybe you set aside one day a month that you dedicate completely to writing, or perhaps you only write every couple of months. Whatever you do, and whichever way you go about it, you’re still a writer. You don’t need to jump through hoops, particularly hoops someone else has set up, to prove this.

Don’t get me wrong, learning tips and tricks from writers you admire is a brilliant thing. I’ve learnt so much from playwrights I love and have had the fortune to work with, meet, or read their advice, but it’s about how you apply their advice to your own way of writing, rather than just following their advice blindly.

I so desperately wanted to be the writer who gets each scene perfect before moving onto the next, as that’s what one of my favourite playwrights said they did in an advice piece, but I just don’t work that way. And trying to force myself to write like that meant my productivity levels just stopped.

I work best by writing a terrible first draft without letting myself do any edits before going back through it again and basically creating a whole new script. That certain piece of advice just hadn’t been applicable to the way I write, and that didn’t mean my way, or her way, was wrong. Instead of doing it scene-by-scene as she suggested, I moulded the advice to fit my writing style, and used her tips on polishing scenes once I’d finished my whole first draft.

And, the truth is, you can only read so many advice columns before it stops becoming advice, and is just another form of procrastination scaring you off from writing (though, of course, you should definitely finish reading this one…)

Playwrights sharing tips and tricks are a lovely way of offering support, not something you should use to berate yourself, believing that you must be writing ‘wrong’ just because you don’t write every day or keep a diary. Write how you want. Write when you want. Write once a day. Write once a month. Write once a year. Keep a diary. Don’t. Whatever you do or whichever way you do it, you’ll still a writer. Now, stop reading advice columns and get to it.


*We didn’t (sorry)

The ‘Diversity Card’: Why are men using female pseudonyms?

 Female writers using male pseudonyms is viewed as common practise, the so-called Brontë effect. But could the trend now be swinging the other way? In this piece, Editor Jennifer Richards looks at why some male playwrights have been adopting female pen names when entering competitions.  

There is a notable historical tradition of women writing under men’s names, or adopting gender neutral pseudonyms like J.K. Rowling or Harper Lee. Why? Because they couldn’t get their work published, produced, read or otherwise taken seriously. It seems like an accepted route for female writers who want to be heard, but in the past few years, something strange has been happening – men are submitting as women.

Let’s look at some stats…

Of the 2015 top ten and winners of the Bruntwood Prize, all the male playwrights listed used either a female or gender neutral pseudonym.

In 2017, the winner of the Bruntwood Prize, Timothy X Attack used ‘Asdfgh J’ as his name – you couldn’t assign a gender to this, but it’s also not exactly a ‘name’.

A similar trend of male playwrights not using male names was also seen in 2016’s radio thriller competition by Sussex Playwrights; almost half of the 31 male playwrights submitted under a female or gender neutral name.

As theatres are facing pressure to be more diverse, perhaps this has led male writers to believe that they will be in with a better chance if they submit under a female name, which could explain the use of female pseudonyms.

So… Do male playwrights believe in the ‘diversity card’?

When I posed this to Chris Campbell, Literary Manger of Royal Court, he responded: “Unquestionably there is the view out there that men think they would be looked on more favourably if they were female.”

He did add that it in his experience, it was a small number of men who use female pseudonyms, and “of those men, there are ones who may just feel more comfortable for writing from what they think is from a female perspective, which I kind of understand. But out of that small number there are also those who do believe we are trying to fill out some kind of quota.”

“I have had people genuinely say to me: ‘I suppose if I was a 20-year-old girl, it would be very different.”

The fact that the men selected as winners of the 2015 Bruntwood Prize were all using female names might support that view. But Chris points out that: “The importance of the name on the cover is widely exaggerated, perhaps unconsciously, by writers.”

Chris continued, voicing his frustration that white male writers could think they would be looked on less favourably: “I do think if you are a writer and a piece of work is not being taken up, you’ll look for any conceivable reason other than the obvious one [that your work isn’t good enough.] For a long time, white men did not have another reason and now they do, and they can find that comforting.”

This must mean female playwrights are doing well then?

The fact that some men believe they are at a disadvantage seems ironic considering the 2017 review of playwriting by arts and culture blogger Victoria Sadler.

Sadler found that of the six leading theatres in London, five had less than half of their plays written by solo female playwrights. Which is exactly the same as she found the year before – so two thumbs up for progress then…

For 2017, her findings included The Old Vic with a female to male playwright ratio of 0:5 and The National Theatre with just 1:3, and Salomé was the only work by a female playwright to be performed on the Olivier stage. Just last year, the Hampstead Theatre came under fire for their failure to programme a single woman writer in their mainstage season. (An imbalance which it seems they are working to correct in their upcoming programming.)

So it would definitely seem unusual to think you are more likely to succeed if you go under a female name. Maybe there’s more to it than just wanting to play the ‘diversity card’.

The value of pseudonyms – a new identity?

Philippa Hammond, Chair of Sussex Playwrights (who ran the radio thriller competition mentioned above), thinks men could be using female pseudonyms for a different reason.

“Rather than ‘pretending to be female’, the male writers are asking the judges to look at the writing not the writer.”

“Sussex Playwrights need playwrights to use pseudonyms because some of the entries to the competition are members or otherwise known to the committee. This way only I know entirely who wrote what and the committee aren’t swayed by friendships/prejudices/preconceptions etc.”

This idea of taking the writer’s identity out of the play by using a pseudonym (male or female) is shared by James Fitz, who was one of the 2015 Bruntwood Prize winners for his play Parliament Square – with his entry going under the female (and funny) pseudonym ‘Penelope Pitstop’.

“It’s very rare to be able to strip your play of you. I get quite obsessed of trying to take myself out of the play. Being able to choose your pseudonym and mask yourself was great.”

When I questioned why he had picked a female pseudonym rather than a male one, he said: “I chose it because I thought it was funny and I guess it was a bit unconscious in choosing a different gender, and just choosing something that felt very different to my normal identity.”

The pseudonym problem

Chris Campbell describes Bruntwood as a “wonderful thing”, but criticises the use of pseudonyms. As Literary Manger of the Royal Court, he wouldn’t see value in playwrights submitting to him under pseudonyms.

“Bruntwood fetishes this anonymity thing and I don’t think that’s right – they probably already know who it’s by or can find out immediately by googling it.”

“I really don’t think in the end it’s much of a help.”

It’s quality that shines

The Royal Court was the only theatre in Sadler’s review that had a higher ratio of female to male playwrights. When I mentioned that a lot of excuses are given for not programming female playwrights, Campbell dismissed this, saying it’s simple: “How do you programme more female playwrights? Get more female playwrights on – full stop.”

“People will then learn from example. If we get to the point where the idea of a playwright doesn’t conjure up a guy name Dave, and instead perhaps someone called Polly, then maybe we’re doing the right thing.”

Perhaps some men, on hearing statements like this, incorrectly interpret that as meaning they are at a disadvantage, and turn to using female identities to try and help. But all the people involved in this piece pointed out how quality was much more important than whatever name was on the paper, which doesn’t actually bear any weight.

Do pseudonyms even have a place in playwriting?

So though some playwrights like James Fritz may crave the freedom that taking on a new identity enables, pseudonyms seem to be fairly redundant. If a theatre or theatre company require a script to be anonymous, then perhaps it is better to use a playwright’s initials or simply just call them all ‘anonymous’.

With pseudonyms, the issue isn’t with the idea that you may want to take on a new identity. But if you’re adopting one, it’s worth asking yourself why you’re taking on that particular identity, and is it for the right reasons?

There may be a call for more diversity in theatre, but Sadler’s review certainly paints a bleak picture about little, or in fact no, progress being made in helping to put the work of female playwrights on stage.

Perhaps, the Papatango Prize and the (soon to close) Theatre503 award have got it right in asking applicants to submit scripts without any name on them, rather than under a pseudonym.

It shouldn’t be the name on the script the mater, but the story you’re telling. And that raises an entirely different question of what we define as an important story, or ‘quality’ storytelling, but that a conversation for another post…

Let us know your thoughts on the topic by tweeting us @LDNPlaywrights 

10 things to do once you’ve finished writing a play

Getting your script finished sometimes seems like an impossible task, but it’s a brilliant feeling when you’ve got a completed draft staring back at you. Yet the big question is: what do I do now? In this piece, Kimberley Andrews shares all the options you and your wonderful new script have…

You’ve done it! You’ve finally got to the end of your script! Perhaps you took part in #WrAP2018 and wrote the whole thing in January or maybe you’ve been working on it for what seems like all eternity.

Either way, there are few things more satisfying in life then ceremoniously typing out the phrase ‘The End’ as you hit the milestone of finishing your play. (Wahoo!)

Image by SilentMind8 via Flickr CC

But then what, hey?  Once the initial jubilation of getting your play finished wears off, it’s easy to feel daunted by the possibilities of what you should be doing with it. And whilst there’s plenty of information out there on actually writing the script, there are no hard and fast rules about what to do next.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 tips for what to do once you’ve finished your play:

1. Step away from it

Image by Dan Taylor watts via Flickr CC

That’s it step. away. from. the. laptop. This might seem counterproductive since you’re feeling all buzzy about getting your play finished, but taking a break can help give you a perspective on where you want to go with it – or what needs editing.

It doesn’t have to be a long break, especially if you’re working towards a submission deadline, but reading a book, catching up with friends or just zoning out in front of some trashy TV puts some distance between  you and your play and helps you to see things with fresh eyes.

2. Redraft it

Image via by Watchsmart Flickr CC

This might sound obvious but don’t even think about doing anything with your play until you’ve redrafted it (and for professional opportunities, we’d recommend sending nothing earlier than your third draft).

Tackle the big stuff first, otherwise you’ll find yourself spending weeks tinkering with commas and minor details instead of grappling with the important stuff.

(Also, watch this space for a LPW online redrafting course that will be available to our members soon).

3. Get some feedback

Image via Alan Levine via Flickr CC

Once you feel you’ve made all the edits  you can, it’s worth getting some feedback to get another perspective. At this stage, try asking someone you know (and trust will be honest with you) to have a read of your play and to tell you what they think of it.

Unfortunately, most literary departments don’t offer feedback to writers and many don’t accept re-submissions,  so you’ll be wasting an opportunity to submit to them later if you send in an early draft.

If you’re stuck for someone to read your play,  you could consider our script consulting service or why not put a shout out on Facebook and do a script swap with another writer?

4.  Polish it

Image by Mike Mozart via Flickr CC

Once your play has been suitably redrafted, it’s a good idea to go through it with a fine toothed comb and polish it to perfection.

While you’re busy with the creative stuff, it’s easy to forget small details such as formatting, page numbers and grammar; but these things are so important.

It might sound cheesy, but you are also presenting yourself when you send off a script, and you want to put your best foot forward.

You also want to make sure your play is as easy for a rushed literary manager to read as possible – so checking formatting details is doubly important.

You can find some great information on formatting your script on BBC Writersroom but the biggest tip we can give you is to be consistent!

5.  Workshop it

Image by Alh1 via Flickr CC

Workshopping your play can be a really valuable way to test run it before you show it to an audience.

During a workshop, you’ll benefit from seeing your play up on it’s feet and you can also get actors to improvise around any problematic areas in your script.

Essentially, all you need for a workshop is some actors, a space and your script (a director is helpful too, particularly if you don’t fancy leading the workshop yourself).

The downside of this is that it can be costly and seem like an extravagance if you don’t know whether the play will be performed.

A good alternative to a workshop is to join a writers group (or start your own!) where you can have your work read out and discussed – you might even all be able to club together for some workshop sessions with actors.

6. Organise a reading

Image by Jim Norrena via Flickr CC

There’s nothing quite like seeing your play up on stage and in the absence of a fully staged performance, a reading is the next best thing.

Invite the right people and who knows, your play might get picked up for a production.

And you can find out more about putting on a reading in Sam Sedgman’s piece here.

7. Pitch it

Image by Stephen Dan via Flickr CC

Once you’ve got a script that you’d eventually like to see the light of day, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’ll pitch it to other people.

Pitches come in all different shapes and sizes: from the few sentences you write in an introductory email, to a full one-page outline, to the blurb on a flyer, and even to a conversation with a potential producer.

Also, spending some time trying summarise your idea is a great way to flag up any holes in your plot that you might need to revisit before you start submitting.

Write a few different variations of your pitch for different situations and do practice verbal pitches in the mirror (or to another human!) – the last thing you want to do when someone says ‘tell me out your play’ is answer with a giant ‘errrrr…..’. Awkward.

8. Send it to theatres

Image by Frankie Roberto via Flickr CC

The obvious choice of things to do with a finished play is to send it out to some theatres or apply for opportunities you’ve found on our website.

A common mistake is to send your play out to anyone and everyone, especially since you can do so by email these days and don’t have to shell out for hard copies!

Do your research and target the theatres you’d really like to work with first; it might be that you get a snippet of feedback and decide to redraft before sending it out to anyone else – or you never know, you might even get produced at your dream venue.

If you’re not sure which theatre is the best fit for your piece, look out for our members’ resource coming soon that will give you some advice on this one…

9. Produce it yourself

Image by Barman Farzahd via Flickr CC

Producing it yourself might sound like the most daunting of these options but it’s a sure fire way to get your work on stage – and that’s why you wrote it, right?

It also needn’t be as scary as you think – you don’t need to hire out the National or tour the whole country with it; you can hire a small venue and work on shoestring budget.

There’s no doubt that self-producing is hard work but it’s definitely one of the most empowering things you can do as an aspiring playwright.

10. Leave it in drawer

Image via Tanaka Juyo via Flickr CC

This one sounds ridiculous but probably slightly tempting when faced with the gargantuan task of getting your play out there.

That said, there are instances when leaving it in a (probably metaphorical) drawer and getting on with your life isn’t such a bad thing.

Perhaps you wrote this play just to master the craft of playwriting; perhaps writing this play just provided a springboard for something bigger and better, or maybe you just don’t connect with the idea anymore.

There is no shame in recognising when it’s time to draw a line under something and move on – and nothing is wasted when you are developing and learning your craft anyway.

Just don’t let the reason you leave the play in a drawer be that you’re scared of the unknown or don’t feel you’re good enough. You’ve come this far, and you’ve already realised a huge goal by writing a play.

This is just the beginning!

Featured image by We Heart It via Flickr Commons  CC License

Six top tips for aspiring female playwrights

Curated by Jennifer Tuckett, director of University Women in the Arts (UWA), the recent UWA event series included a talk with film producer Caroline Cooper Charles, who is also the former Head of Film at Creative England and CEO of Universal Spirits.

She shared her experiences working in film and offered advice to women aspiring to work within the film industry. I left not only reminded of why it’s so vital to push back against these gender inequality boundaries, but also feeling more confident of how to approach being in the arts when you’re a woman.

So if you’re a female playwright looking to try a different media, or just after some general (and brilliant) creative writing advice, here’s the best advice I learnt from Caroline:

1- Don’t panic – it all works out in the end

From getting a media job, to working in arts admin, Caroline explained how her career has not been one straight path. One of the most interesting things she noted was after she got her first commission writing a T.V series, she gave up her job to peruse this full-time and ended up not gaining much work for 18 months.

The inevitable reactions that come with working in a  creative industry can fill you will self-doubt, but Caroline’s experience proves that everyone has their fair share of twists and turns. Not everything may always go to plan, but it can very often work out just fine in the end.

2- Build creative communities

Being a writer can often be rather isolating, and Caroline noted how working in a creative industry, such as the film industry, can often mean being self-employed or possibly working on a freelance basis.

I definitely find the idea of not having colleagues, or the routine of an office 9-5, intimidating. Caroline suggested the answer to this could be building a creative community around you. This could be done through attending workshops or simply reaching out online to someone you admire who works in the same industry.

Working alone doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. Find your network, people you can share your scripts and your concerns with, or even people you can just grab a coffee with when the blank page seems a bit too intimating.

At a time where female work inequality is being taken as a serious issue, and with so many online communities, it’s the perfect time to reach out and create your own working environment. (An added bonus to this is you get to have a Christmas Party! Something those who are self-employed often miss out on.)

3- Spend less time thinking about what’s to come

Women often feel more inclined to turn down an opportunity if they do not feel they can competently take on every element of the task. Yet men are more inclined to take opportunities regardless of whether they’re the perfect fit for the job.

For women to progress within creative industries, Caroline reminded me that we must believe in our skillsets and not be afraid to grow through learning and making mistakes.

She suggested that we spend less time thinking about what else is around the corner and embrace the opportunities that come our way.

Working in such an inconsistent field, this may not be the easiest thing to do, but as women, it is important that we believe in ourselves in order to progress in our work (as cheesy as it sounds!).

Don’t let your doubts stop you from entering opportunities or promoting your work – you’re taking yourself out of the running before you’ve even got started.

But this doesn’t mean you have to suddenly become competitive with other women, willing them not to succeed so you get the opportunity.

Caroline summed this up nicely,  saying: “I don’t want to be a woman that fights like a man in order to dominate in a man’s world.”

4- Have an active routine

Whether it’s making sure you have time to go for you morning run, or time to cook yourself a good meal in the evening, having a routine that works for you, and allows you to motivate yourself, is so important.

This doesn’t mean you have to be weighed down by a certain structure, rather you bring in a healthy routine that ensures you’re not spending all your time on Buzzfeed quizzes and cat videos…

5- Transparency

One of the best attributes you can carry is transparency. To be honest with those around you, to admit when you need help, and to work openly with your team, means people will be more open with you, and this is always a positive thing.

6- It’s okay to not have a plan

When asked what advice she would have given to her younger self, Caroline stated: “That it’s okay to not have a plan. I’ve never had a plan, and when I was younger I thought that was a problem.”

I think for so many women, we feel a pressure to consistently prove ourselves, and not having plan can sometimes feel like failing, so it was brilliant to hear a successful women say that it’s okay to not know.

The takeaway…

After hearing Caroline talk, I felt as though being a young woman wanting to build a creative career wasn’t impossible, it was just means working hard – and we wouldn’t be a part of this industry if that wasn’t something we were prepared to do.

Conversations like this keep that fight alive for so many of us trying to push past the boundaries of gender inequality. Listening to Caroline reminded me how vital it is for women to support other women and to build the creative community she spoke so passionately about.

To find out more about the University Women of Arts programme, you can visit their website here.



How to stage a reading of your work to improve your writing

Readings are a vital part of the playwright’s toolkit and a key stage in developing your work from page to stage. With #WrAP having come to an end last week, this guest post from Sam Sedgman is about getting that all important feedback on a work-in-progress.

As writers, we can spend far too much time in our own heads. When you’ve been working on a play for a long time, it’s very easy to lose track of it, or to build up great big misconceptions about how other people might respond to it.

In both cases, it’s healthy to give your script some fresh air and invite other people to listen to it so you can learn from their opinions – and readings are one of the best ways of doing that.

But before you jump into arranging a reading, look at what stage your script is at. If you think it needs major work, you might want to share a copy with a trusted friend or a fellow writer first.

But, if your script is finished and you’ve redrafted it two or three times (or ten…), and if the idea of it gives you even a little flutter of pride, it’s probably time to share it. Exciting!

When it comes to staging a reading, here are the important questions to ask yourself:

What do I want to know?

What  kind of feedback are you after? Is there a particular character you think needs more attention? A scene which you feel needs work? Are you concerned about the pacing of the plot, or the balance of opinions you’ve given to your characters?

Write down the big concerns you have with your script – the big ones and the small ones – and work them up into a list of questions. This is your mission statement: the things your reading is going to help you answer.

What will I do with the feedback?

Some writers love a deadline, and others hate them. But when it comes to readings, they’re necessary. You need to know what you’re going to do once you find the answers to all those questions you worked out above.

Maybe you’re working towards a writing deadline, or planning on submitting this script to a competition. And, if you’re not, you might want to think about setting yourself a different kind of target to ensure you keep up the momentum after all your readers have gone home.

It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the advice you get after a reading and to just push the script into a drawer. This can sometimes be healthy, but only if you’ve made an appointment with yourself to come back and sit down with the script properly after you’ve had a breather.

So try and schedule some writing time in your diary, working back from the next draft deadline you choose to set – and remember, an achievable deadline is a lot more useful than an ambitious one!

Who’s reading?

Don’t worry too much about finding professional actors to read your script. The goal of a reading isn’t to put on a top quality show with great performances, but rather to let the text speak for itself.

Find some friends who know how to read aloud. And resist the temptation to join the cast and read it aloud yourself. Sure, you know the play inside out, but you’ll be so focused on reading that you won’t be able to focus on listening.

A reading is about paying attention to how your script sounds when placed in the hands of real people who don’t see it like you do. If you must, read stage directions – but it’s better to put these in the hands of someone else too.

Remember to send everyone you invite to read a copy of the script well in advance, explaining who you’d like them to read. But try and avoid telling them how to read the part, the aim is that your script makes that clear by itself.

Who’s listening? 

It’s good to invite some people not to read, but to listen. As they won’t be thinking about their lines, and instead will hear the script as a whole.

But this reading isn’t about promoting your work, so don’t try and make the audience too large. Eight to twelve people – including the readers – is probably about the right size. It’s large enough to invite a variety of opinions, but small enough to be able to hold a focused conversation with the group.

And when inviting people, think about who will give you useful feedback. This could be a fellow writer, an insightful friend, a colleague well-versed in pop culture, someone who works in the theatre industry, or just someone you trust deeply to give you the unvarnished truth.  Aim for variety.

And don’t worry too much about collecting together an audience stuffed with theatrical credentials. If you’re lucky enough to have a phone book full of actors and agents, then good for you – but remember that their insider’s view may be radically different to the general public who will end up being your show’s audience.

You could even invite your mother. I bet she has lots to say.

Where is it?

 All you really need is a quiet room that can comfortably seat a dozen or so people. But while it’s tempting to suggest your living room, it’s worth trying to hire a space in the centre of town.

Chances are it will make it easier for everyone to travel to, as well as giving the event a sense of formality that will make your participants take it more seriously. Several venues hire spaces from as little as £10 per hour so, if you can afford it, it’ll be money well spent.

How should I interact with my readers?

Remember that everyone you’re inviting is doing you a favour, so be as cordial and welcoming as possible. Invite them well in advance, with a personal message, explaining why you’d like them in particular to be there.

Be sure to follow-up nearer the time, and help them with directions to the venue if they need them. Arrive early. Bring water, and snacks. Be understanding if your guests drop out at the last minute. And thank everyone – before the reading starts, after it’s finished, and later, in person, when you follow-up.

Remember they’re donating their time to help you and it’s always important to appreciate that.

Where do I begin?

Make sure you supply every reader with one copy of the script, with one left over for you to mark up as you read along.

Welcome everyone before you start, and be sure to introduce the play a little. Don’t give a lecture – a few brief points will do: what it’s about, where it’s set, and who the main characters are.

Tell people how long you expect it to last (a minute per A4 page is a good guide) and if you’ll be taking breaks in the middle. Then note down the time, start a recording device if you’re using one, and start reading.

As you read, have your key questions in mind. Read along with the script, and circle anything that pops out to you – both good and bad.

It’s important to note down the stuff that worked well, as well as the stuff that didn’t, so that when you read back over the script later you’re not confronted with just negatives.

Note down laughs, good pacing, and lines that sound good in the actors mouths, as well as parts that are slow, confusing, or fall flat. When you’re done, remember to note down the time again. This scribbled on script will become your best friend when the re-drafting process begins!

How do I move the conversation into being about feedback?

Now comes the important part. Tell your readers and audience the concerns you had with the script which led you to arrange the reading.

Once you’re done with your list of questions, open the floor up to anything your audience might want to add. And though it’s easier to get swept up in the conversation, remember to write all this down!

But what if they don’t like it?

In the face of criticism, resist the temptation to justify yourself or to contradict the group. Don’t get proud or defensive. Take note of what everyone has to say, and then go home to consider it.

You don’t have to act on every suggestion or criticism that you collect, but you do have to consider them before you disregard them.

Use your instincts. If you feel one reader completely misunderstood the character they said they didn’t like, you might choose to ignore that feedback. But if three people felt the same way, then perhaps that character needs some work.

When do I follow up?

Try to follow-up with your guests the day after the reading. Ask them directly if there’s anything extra they’d like to share.

Some people might not have felt comfortable sharing their thoughts in a public group, but an email is the perfect way for them to reflect and collect their thoughts.

And finally…

Asking people to read your work aloud can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it’s an invaluable tool in giving your writing the energy it needs to take it to the next level.

And don’t forget to keep the writing date you made with yourself. Gather all your feedback around you, and go through your annotated script (and your audio recording if you made one) and get to work.

And when you’ve finished your next draft, you just might be ready to share it with the public…

LPW Online Book Club – born bad

The LPW Online Book Club is our latest initiative, exclusive for our members.

Not a member yet? Well, if you want a jump start for your writing for the price of a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! (Want more reasons to join and a bit more info? Read this).

This month’s pick

For our February selection, the LPW Book Club is going to be reading born bad by debbie tucker green.

Why did we pick this?

‘born bad’ (yes, written in lowercase!) is a modern classic for a reason. debbie tucker green (who also writes her name in lower case) uses language in exciting and unconventional ways that uses theatrical form to the fullest.

This play is also a masterclass in plot – as the story unfolds, and our understanding of the family shifts, the revelations about what’s truly going on hit in dramatic and powerful ways.

How does it work?

All you need to do is read the play and come on over to our Members Facebook Group to join the discussion! Book club threads will be marked with the hashtag #bookclub, so it will be easy to find the discussion.

When does it start?

We’re giving you two weeks to read the play, and then discussion will start at lunchtime (1pm) on Friday 16 February 2018. Don’t worry if you haven’t finished the play by then, we’ll be starting at the beginning with our discussion, so there will still be a lot that you can get out of it.

However, we can’t be held liable for any spoilers, so if this is something that will bother you, probably best to finish the play before the book club starts.

We’ll be discussing the play in the Facebook Group throughout the rest of the month, so if there’s a question or a topic you want to explore with a group of writers, this is the perfect opportunity.

Need a copy?

If you need to buy a copy, you can do so at the link below. (And if you buy through this Amazon Affiliate link, a small portion of the sale will go towards supporting LPW – at NO extra charge to you!)

born bad by debbie tucker green (£8.99)

Find out more and sign up to become a member here!

Image: thisguyhere via CC Licence (

#WrAP Diary Week 5 – And We’re Out!

Our Editor, Jennifer Richards, has taken up the challenge to write a play in a month as part of our #WrAP initiative. And with Week Five done, we’ve come to the end!

And just like that, we’re finished – #WrAP has wrapped itself up!

In some ways, January felt like the ever-lasting month (five Mondays are WAY too many…) but, when it came to #WrAP, there still never felt like enough time.

And despite all of the ‘advice for writers’ articles that recommend getting up at five in the morning to write for a few hours before going to work, I thought it’d probably be best not to subject my housemates to a considerably sleepier, crankier me and to instead finish the month with two thirds of a draft rather than a complete script (plus several more hours sleep).

But I’m pleased with the two thirds of a script #WrAP’s left me with, not because I believe it’ll be the next Shakespeare, but because the story I choose to write was one I always wanted to, but had just never felt ready to.

This is because it’s a much more personal piece, being my first full length script focusing on disability and the identity issues involved in my experience of disability (I also added robots into it, because every story needs robots).

I didn’t suddenly get the courage to write this story when January 1st struck; what actually happened was I panicked and realised I had no ideas, so finally decided to tackle this one.

It feels great to end the month with words on a page I never thought I’d get round to writing, and creating a story I thought I’d always be too afraid of telling.

As with all scripts, the plot hasn’t ended up exactly as I thought it would. Characters that the story now couldn’t survive without originally seemed insignificant, and a throwaway comment near the beginning later became a major plot development.

The biggest thing #WrAP’s taught me is the importance of being open minded when it comes to writing, and to allow myself to write something that’s, well, just a bit crap. Because not every word has to be perfect – at least not in the first draft.

Scribbling anything down to fill in a blank (even if it means just writing: ADD IN CONVERSATION HERE!!!)  stops writers’ block from settling in and me wasting days just staring at a blank page – as I think we can all agree, when it came to #WrAP, there were no days to waste!

My health also took a pretty serious knock this month which, in turn, took a pretty serious knock on my writing. But having Kimberley’s #WrAP emails pop up in my inbox – filled with great prompts and tasks I wasn’t well enough to do – didn’t make me feel guilty the way I thought they would. They actually made me feel excited knowing I had lots in store when I felt well enough to start writing again.

Because it’s okay to stop sometimes, in fact, as my mum likes to remind me, it’s necessary to take a break. Necessary for your health and necessary for your sanity. Just as long as you start again.

That’s what my #WrAP experience has been: not writing a whole play in a month, but learning to be a bit more forgiving to myself when it comes to writing. Both in terms of getting things down on the page, and in giving myself room to take a break.

Going into this month, I’m still using that #WrAP adrenaline to keep writing the script. I’m incredibly thankful to Kimberly and #WrAP for reminding me of that creative buzz you feel when you’ve got a story at your fingertips that you just know has to be told.

I’d love to know how #WrAP went for you, both the successes and the things you’ve been struggling with. Tweet us at @LDNPlaywrights using #WrAP2018 and let me know.

Until 2019…


Introducing the Women’s Musical Theatre Initiative

We’re very excited to launch our latest initiative!

London Playwrights’ Workshop is partnering with musical theatre writing team Barlow & Smith to create the Women’s Musical Theatre Initiative (WMTI), a new development programme for female musical theatre writers.

We’ll be launching this with a cabaret fundraiser on Monday 12 February, featuring some talented artists and West End talent. We’d love to have you join us! Click here to learn more and book tickets.

The inspiration

In 2017, The Stage reported that male writers outnumber female writers 9:1 in musical theatre, with women underrepresented as lyricists, bookwriters, and particularly as composers.

The Women’s Musical Theatre Initiative (WMTI) aims to redress that imbalance.

The programme

The WMTI programme will have three strands:

  1. Showcases for talented women artists – gaining exposure for female writers and helping those in the industry find and connect with new talent
  2. Masterclasses for intermediate/advanced artists – helping them develop their skills and build their networks
  3. An introductory writers workshop – encouraging more women to get into writing musical theatre, and give them the support and challenge to develop their skills

The writing showcases will launch in 2018, with the masterclass and workshop programmes starting in 2019.

Want to get involved?

If you’re interested in writing for musical theatre, please do come up and introduce yourself to say hi at the show!

You can also register below to stay up to date on upcoming events or workshop opportunities.

Image: Eulanda Shead Photography

LGBTQ+ Representation in Theatre: A Chat With Full Disclosure Theatre

Bored of seeing the same heterosexual narrative on stage? Read our Editor Jennifer  Richards’ Q&A with Full Disclosure Theatre to find out how they’re working to correct that…

As a LGBTQ+ theatre maker, getting to see queer characters on stage for the first time made my cry, as I finally saw someone like me reflected in the characters I watch. Yet it took till I turned 20 for me to experience that.

It’s vital that everybody gets their story told, and Full Disclosure Theatre are a company committed to telling these LGBTQ+ narratives that are so sorely missing.

I got the chance to catch up with their Artistic Directors, Chris Davis and Sam Luffman, to learn more about the company and their work.

Beth Eyre and Roseanna Frascona performing in ‘Gold star’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night

Q & A with Full Disclosure Theatre

JR: Why did you decide to create Full Disclosure Theatre?

SL: There is strong LGBTQ+ work that is being staged and the platform for that is great, but there is a diverse community amongst that, that we feel lack representation on stage.

The stories about the queer experience that haven’t be told yet or we rarely see on stage, are the stories that we are most interested in. And with Full Disclosure Theatre we hope to give playwrights the platform to share them.

It is also rare to find New Writing Nights dedicated to plays with a LGBTQ+ focus, which is also partly how Full Disclosure Theatre came about.

JR: Why do you think it is so necessary to tell LGBTQ+ stories?

CD: LGBTQ+ people will always be a minority, so it’s important to maintain strong representation of our community by telling these kind of stories.

This can help inspire, educate and hopefully entertain audiences and also provide a platform for LGBTQ+ artists to collaborate and vocalise things that might otherwise remain unsaid.

Plus, our family and friends, who may not identify as queer, still want to understand us better and be part of our lives.

Hassan Gavia and Josh Enright performing in ‘Pray your wings will carry you’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night
JR: You recently put on a scratch night of LGBTQ+ stories. What was the reaction to this night like?
SL: We were really pleased with audience reaction and the reviews. We felt people realised that there are so many types of LGBTQ+ stories still to be told, and enjoyed the mix of positive messages and the more humbling moments that highlighted ongoing concerns within the community.
Some feedback suggested that we could have been more diverse in terms of the ages represented on stage and variation of cultures. We hope to address the age representation more so in our next night, as well as a story that tackles the issue of class.
However ultimately, there is only so much you can do in one night of eight stories. Hopefully we can continue to find more diverse and untold stories as we continue into 2018.
JR: What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ playwrights who are struggling to get their stories on stage?
CD: Going to see lots of theatre and reading as many plays as you can is a great place to start. It’s important writers understand where they fit in within this mass mix of stories, and hopefully this will help them see what is unique and new about their story.
As a company, we want to stage stories that offer a new perspective or character or concern that isn’t being seen rather than a rehash of what has come before. The next step is to send to as many places as you can to get your work staged, in whatever capacity. There are a few opportunities for this, particularly in London with New Writing Nights.
Feedback is also really key, firstly from close confidantes whose opinions you respect and trust. But also from people who you don’t think are going to see things the same way as you. We believe the combination of the two really helps writers gain clarity and inspire new ideas.
JR: How can we make the theatre industry a more inclusive one?
SL: We feel there has been a real push for BAME and LGTBQ+ artists within the theatre industry in the last few years, which is fantastic and essential. But there isn’t always a direct correlation with the amount of opportunities given to individuals from lower income backgrounds.
This starts with education and nurturing young people in schools through theatre and the performing arts. Encouraging the next generation to share their stories and to be more involved is essential to a more inclusive industry of the future. Opportunities can be hard to find, but also the idea of making your own opportunities need to be encouraged more.
Jack O’Neil performing in ‘Fluid’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night
Full Disclosure’s next scratch night, XPOSED, is running at Southwark Playhouse on February 11. You can get tickets here.

#WrAP Diary Week 4 – Time To Show Not Tell!

Our Editor, Jennifer Richards, has taken up the challenge to write a play in a month as part of our #WrAP initiative. With Week Four done, the finish line’s almost in sight…

After struggling to write last week (which you can read about in my third #WrAP diary here), this week was about getting back on that (metaphorical) horse.

From the beginning of this writing process, I’ve known what I wanted to happen my script, and the information I needed to give the audience at certain points. What I was finding challenging was: how do I give it to them?

I definitely struggle with falling into the trap of just having a character say exactly what’s happening, even if it doesn’t seem natural or authentic in the script.

And I’ve always found that when I’m finding it difficult to convey the information I need to (e.g. something that happened to a character in the past, or how a character is feeling), it’s best for me to just write it almost in this Q&A style, and then go back and try improve it later.

And that’s what I choose to do this week. Kimberley’s video about dialogue needing to do something and have some sort of action involved in it inspired me to go back and tackle an old scene I wasn’t happy with.

So my focus this week became rewriting a scene that had originally just been a character pretty much talking to the audience about major plot developments I needed them to know. Kimberley reminded me I needed to show and not tell.

Where my protagonist had started to feel resentment for her best friend, instead of doing the very obvious by having her say how she was feeling and voicing this frustration, I switched this dialogue out for eye rolls and small petty actions, like not waiting for her friend when she was trailing behind.

I managed to convey exactly what I needed to without having to spell it out (the magic of subtext!) It’s made the whole script became a lot smoother, and the dialogue that’s there is necessary rather than just padding.

Now I’m going to be honest and say that going into these final few days of January, and of #WrAP, I’m probably not going to have a complete draft due to the setbacks I experienced last week.

But I’ll be finishing the month with  a story that’s dear to me, and one I’ve always been afraid to write. And I also spent this week plotting out the final few scenes, so I should be able to hit next week running (or writing…)

I’d love to know how #WrAP’s been going for you, both the successes and the things you’ve been struggling with. Tweet us at @LDNPlaywrights using #WrAP2018 and let me know.

And if you haven’t signed up for #WrAP yet but would love to still take part and get going on your 2018 writing goals, you can find out more about how to become a member of LPB and join in with the initiative here.

Roll on Week Five!