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Class Notes:

Things You're Responsible for.

Thursday, January 12, 2017
10:07 AM
A Prompts:
a Formal (2) - answer until it's done
b Free Writes (3) - 300+ words
(5 days a week)
A Journal:
a On-going
b Source of ideas
i Dreams, overheard conversations, physical stuff, billboard,
matchbook cover
ii Whatever creative stuff you think, feel, etc.
B Optional
a Morning Pages:
i 3 handwritten pages
ii 1st thing in the morning
iii This is not for Kat
iv You can use stuff to go in journal or use as free-writes

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

9:49 AM


-Who are these people?

-What do they want?

-What are their distinct personalities?

-How does this create conflict and drama?


-What's the story?

-What does the grandfather do?

-What does he want?

-There must be at least a hint of ACTION

-(Even if there's no physical action, there must be mental action through



-Conflict should be at the core of every scene and character.

-"No one wants to see a play about nice things happening to nice people.
Unless something really unhappy is about to happen to them."

Unity of Action:

-What's the throughline?

-Characters, action, conflict, but no single subject that brings it together.

-Choose a central conflict and develop it.

Lack of Plausibility:

-Action is illogical

-No audience would buy it

-Seek out the truth inherent in you premise and reveal it for the audience
through a plausible sequence of related events.

Pseudo-Philosophical Gobbledy Good

-A good playwright must be able to communicate his/her ideas.

-Don't be a pompous, pretentious, skeff about it.

Too Cinematic:

-This is almost unstageable

Too many:



-Jumps in time

Over Abundance of Scope:




-But along with cinematic thinking, its scope is too wide for a play.

-Too episodic. A good play has a more focused scope - a limited number of
characters with only a few hours time in their lives presented (although that
time can spread out over days or years).

Lack of Focus:

-Whose story is this?

-There's too much going on.

-Create a simple protagonist - one who takes action and drives the main

-Stay away from subplots.

Too Trendy:
-"Hot topics" change quickly: by the time this is produced, the world will have
moved on.

-Dont write for success and popularity - write your truth - what you need to
write, what you want to write. Something you care about, whether it is
successful or not.

A Skit Concept, not a play:

-Plays a single joke to an extreme.

-Not enough substance for a full play.

Yes! A good start:



-Beginnings of CHARACTER

-SCOPE within the confines of a single play

-Deals with a basic truth

-(But be careful of preaching to the audience - obvious right and wrong sides of
a politically correct topic. Can wind up smug, sanctimonious, and pointless.)

Dramatic Rules: Continues to change

-ex. Aristotle's Poetics:






-3 Unities:




Dramatic Principles: Dealing with structure that hasn't really changed very much
over the ages. (Changed very little)

Conflict: Desire + Obstacle x Lack of Compromise = Conflict

Truth: emotional truth (how we feel. Arguably the most important),

intellectual truth


Dramatic Unity



Character Notes
Thursday, February 09, 2017

9:54 AM

Sociology: Status/Class

Psychology: Superstitions













Background Information:



Parental Relationship

First kiss

War record

Greatest moment of happiness

Greatest moment of sadness

Dont let this get out of hand!

Brief answers are the best

Dont treat this as a character analysis as though you are an actor preparing
for a role.

Don't try to reproduce a living person; this is a character giving the impression
they are a real person within the confines of a particular story


Present tense:

Be selective

If elements of their history affects character's actions NOW, it is relevant, if not,

cut it.

Remember the sequence of events--character actions must point to a final end

Sub-textual information

Select and arrange information

The Fine Line

Characters must be unique and different from one another

One EMOTION usually defines them the most (think back to the Breakup scene




But not: SELF-PITY (unless they take action to snap out of it)

These simple traits lead to refined ones

Protagonists should come to the story from a place of disadvantage, but they
have to be strong enough to stand up to oppressors.


The "dumb blonde"

The "redneck"

The "cranky old man"

The "scatterbrained scientist"

Us them IF you can make them UNIQUE, SURPRISING, & DISTINCTIVE-

"The cranky old widower who uses a million balloons to fly his house to South

You ARE what you DO--Characters in Action

Characters are what they DO, not how they APPEAR

His/her true self may be different from his/her obvious characteristics

True self emerges when PRESSED TO EXTREMITY

Dramatic change/surprise (if justified) can be one of your greatest techniques


Use anything that drives a character FORWARD--




Character who does the most to move the action forward (or does the most to
prevent it) sets the play on course
REAL people usually make bad stage characters--we rarely significantly take

The character's ACTION must have a GOAL

Why watch two people fight if nothing changes?

Dramatic action=the inner conflict's outward expression

Why do characters fail?

Goals are not strong enough

Obstacles are not difficult enough

They have not been given enough traits or opportunities to take action

Be careful about the problems you choose

Don't use addiction, alcoholism, etc; don't mistake the symptom for the cause.

Character's motivation always needs to be to turn a negative into a positive.


Formulas Purpose (Character or plot?)

Character and plot must be developed simultaneouslyFORMULA

allows you to do this

Relies on established structure (skeleton) but YOU provide the skin,

eye, and hair color, height, weight, nose, mouth etc.

Beginning: Event, inciting incident, major decision, major dramatic question

Event: (ex. A Raisin in the Sun)

o Grabs the audience right away

o Natural and obvious, not contrived

o Contains the essence of the story

o Hints at whats to come

o You also have to grab the publishers attention as well

Inciting Incident

o The Disturbance or the Point of Attackthe turning point in the

lives of one or more of your characterswhen they begin to ACT.

o Protagonist falls into situation of potential conflict

o Protagonist must face the potential conflict from a disadvantage

o 10% Rule:

Major Decision:

o Protagonist makes a decision that sets him on a course through the

rest of the play

o Is responsible for the rest of the plays actionits core.

o Defines what the play is about

o Clarifies the protagonists GOAL

o If their decision is eventually righteous, the audience will feel cheated.

No purpose of the major decision

Major Dramatic Question:

o The hook that will keep the audience in their seats for two hours

o What is going to happen?provokes curiosity and suspense

o When answered, often gives us the theme of the play

o Must not be answered until the end

Middle: A series of obstacles, The 3 Cs, rising action, dark moment

Series of obstacles

o Make sure that your protagonist doesnt succeed for a while (if at all!)

o Too strong, too soon, there is no conflict

Three Cs

o Conflict, crisis, and complications

o When the protagonist faces no more of these, the play is over for the

o Dont solve everything too soon or have a dnouement that goes

several pages on

o A scene doesnt need to be action-packed to have complications

(imminent conflict)

Rising Action

o AKA Upping the stakes

o The dramatic escalation of the three Cs

o Each solution gives rise to a new C

o Each C must be a higher stake than the previous one

o Middle of the play should follow the path of the most resistance

The dark moment

o All is lost!
o The ultimate obstacle

o Protagonist has failed, usually because of their own outcome

o Signals the beginning of the end

o Drama: the protagonist has lost

o Comedy/Positive ending: false moment of despair

Ending: Enlightenment, climax, catharsis

WARNING: The ending has to be consistent with the beginning

o Audience must not feel tricked by an out-of-the-blue deus ex


o Surprise ending is okay, but must still be logical

o Dont write yourself into a corner


o Protagonist learns how to defeat the antagonist (positive ending) OR

realizes the antagonist cannot be defeated

o Something the protagonist could not have known without the previous
trials and tribulations

o Carefully set up since the beginning, but not obvious at the time

Forms of revealing the truth

o The protagonist joins forces with another

o There is a revelation that brings new understanding to the situation

o Protagonist finally sees the light after falling into the dark moment

o Now enlightened, the protagonist is ready to defeat the enemy (or at

least try)

o Pace should accelerate

o CLIMAX=when the antagonist/situation is defeated in some way

(including a tragedy)

o Defeat can be physical, mental, emotional etc.

o Does not need to be overly dramatic


their actors bring it home


o Aristotlepurging of emotions

o Tragedy: Audience feels pity for hero, or fear they will suffer the same

o Positive ending: Audience feels a deep sense of satisfaction

o A deeper sense of self-awareness for the audience

o Hint of what is to come

o Get in and get out! No wallowing.

The Formula Trap

o Fundamental elements happen in the same order (event, inciting

incident, major decision, conflict, dark moment, etc.)this form of storytelling is as
old as storytelling

o The TRAP is winding up with a boring uninteresting playit sells but its
not ART

o DONT become too comfortableyoull avoid risk

o The playwrights ally in finding danger and risk in his play that follows
formula is CHARACTER (remember the chicken and the egg)