Ahh, I really liked this. I liked the characters and Lucy's witty lines (especially her opening letter to her mom). I really like the point you chose to come into the story - it's a perfect point for a riveting play.
There are two things that I wished for the play. The first was that Laine had to work a little harder to uncover Lucy's resentments. Lucy was so in touch with her feelings and willing to report on them that you were perhaps in a little danger of telling rather than showing what was going on in her mind. I think the disease/choice debate especially would benefit from integration with the characters' actions and history - Laine treated an illness and Lucy resented a choice and the initial integration is beautiful, but I think you could take it farther.
For instance, what exactly did the mom do that specifically "stole Lucy's childhood"?
Second, it might be helpful, if you are interested in rewriting the play, to go over the beats of the play to see how the stakes get raised or the action progresses over time. We have Laine trying to get Lucy to leave, but what are the specific excuses/weapons/anguished memories that Lucy deploys to avoid leaving? What is the least powerful and what is the most powerful? And how exactly does Laine convince Lucy? Or does she even convince her? It could be just Lucy's continued effort at her letter that convinces her.
In any event, it's a great ending, running out of the room, running toward family. Thanks for posting!
Your friendly neighborhood
Last edited on Tue Sep 18th, 2007 02:39 pm by Swann1719
Thanks for posting. That is what the site is about.
It is a story that has a good moral tale at the end through the use of her own writing in her journal. A self-revelatory twist.
For a short play you will never get the set you describe. And there is no need to waste space or ink describing things that get in the way of the reader reading the story. The set you describe costs too much and takes up too much "set up/take down" time in a short evening of several plays. All you need is what you wrote:
Cast of Characters
LUCY, a 17-year-old bookworm. Younger sister of LAINIE.
LAINIE, a college senior who lives at home. Older sister of LUCY.
Time and Place
ACT ONE, Scene One and Only ………The present, in Lucy’s bedroom.
That is all you need. We know what most teenager's bedrooms are like. And it givesthe director freedom to decide how it will be portrayed.
You don't need fetal postion or any of that.
I like the older sister/younger sister banter and their difference in years is evident, which can be hard to pull off. You did a nice job on that. I would cut back a bit on the AA "talk" as it sounds like a lecture. You need to keep it, but hide it so it doesn't sound like it came out of the book or a meeting. Give the characters their own original way of saying it.
Here is a simple edit that cuts the redundancy factor:
She poured my childhood right down the drain! If it weren’t for books, and you…It’s amazing I have any friends at all. How many times have I had any of them over? Two times? Three? Do you know how embarrassing it is when you can’t invite your friends because you’re afraid your drunken mother will make a scene or fall down or yell demented things at them?
You can even go further:
She poured my childhood right down the drain! If it weren’t for books, and you…It’s amazing I have any friends at all. How many times have I had any of them over? Two times? Three? Do you know how embarrassing it is because you’re afraid your drunken mother will make a scene or fall down or yell demented things at them?
You see the leaner examples?
You can do things like that throughout.
But neat stuff. Keep posting. I hope it does well for you. Let us know!
Wow! Thank you, Swann and in media res, for taking the time to read this play and respond with such thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.
I see what you mean, Swann, about "telling" the resentment rather than showing it. It's so easy to get lazy and let a character just "explain" everything. And then I let Lainie tell Lucy how mad she (Lucy) is, so two characters are explaining her feelings! I think that if I do go over the beats of the play and build in specific excuses/memories, that will help to alleviate that problem. Also, you caught what I was hoping was "catchable" -- that being unable to finish her letter gives Lucy the pause or disquietude she needs to be able to go with Lainie. (Although Lainie's arguments have made it tough for Lucy to finish her letter, so it's kind of circular.) Thank you, too, for what you wrote about raising the stakes and moving from less to more powerful. That's something I need to keep in mind in all my plays, not only this one!
In media res, I really like what you said about letting the characters put the AA lingo into their own words. I took the easy way out there, too! I'm also impressed with your "paring" ability. I'm an editor and a pretty tight writer, but you whittled away that example beautifully. Coming to playwriting from print journalism, I also appreciate the nuts-and-bolts comments concerning the set and set-up. But I have a question. What about the stuffed animals? I want Lainie to be holding a stuffed animal and stroke it furiously at one point... Once a script is selected, do the actors/director go through and look for places where hand props or whatever are needed? Or does that stuff need to be mentioned up front somehow?
Again, thank you both so much.
Last edited on Tue Sep 18th, 2007 08:16 pm by kris
If something is essential, yes, put it in. For insance, the stuffed animals can easily be brought on and brought off by the actor for the short duration of the play. But to remove a bed....well....maybe a small chair would suffice or her laying on a pillow on the floor! (As long as sightlines were okay.)
If I were directing this, I might even have Lainie fiddling with one of Lucy's dolls at one moment. (Don't put that in the script...it is just a directing/actor thing. It may work or not. But I'd try it at one point.) To answer your question, yes, good actors will always look for a way to use props. We can't keep our hands off them! But in the end, they will be used only sparingly and again essentially to add a deeper meaning to the play itself. In rehearsals one can often hear, even if a prop is not mentioned in the script "I need something here." or "I want to touch that doll" etc, etc. Or a director will say, "Let's see what you can up with to include those stuffed animals."
And just because you want it "stoked furiously" does not mean the actor might just stroke it gently or hold it tightly or whatever thing a particualr actor will bring to the part. That is what makes it interesting. And can make a writer tear out their hair if they are not used to actors!
Short descriptions are fine, but I think you know what I mean. We came to read a play script. There is a fine line between descriptive overload and what is essential, because each play has its own tone and necessities. One can write for paragraphs and not have a reader even think of descriptive overload, as long as the reader can remain convinced it is essential.
P.S. I want you both to know I have taken your suggestions to heart.
Swann, in looking for specific examples that show rather than tell, I've discovered that Mim ran over the family dogs. Not one. Two. Plural dogs! Bad dogs! Got in the lady's way. She also destroyed Lucy's beautiful collection of china horses. Who knows what else she did?
in media res, cleaning up the AA jargon has given Lucy two new little riffs. In one, instead of referring to her dad as the classic enabler, she goes into a bit about God forbid he ever take away the bobbies. Bobbies! Who calls bottles "bobbies," anyway? And so on.
Sometimes it takes a village...
P.P.S. Just saw your answer to the stuffed animal question, in media res. Thanks!
Last edited on Tue Sep 18th, 2007 10:08 pm by kris
Kris, I very much enjoyed your work and would love to see this staged.
Lucy was a very hip and savvy young woman with whom I could easily identify. I liked her as a human being very much. Her saying that she didn't have a heart was a bit over-much, yet very true to her character.
Lainie seemed to have some real issues with her mom and with her role as big sister/mother to Lucy. A tough burden to assume -- and one I can also identify with.
Something to think about: Listen carefully to conversations around you, especially those between close friends and relatives. Listen to how sentences are not always gramatically contructed and how often they overlap and are left incomplete.
Thanks, Edd. That's great advice about the sentences not always being grammatically correct. I've learned more in the day since I posted this play than I have in three years on my own! Thanks, everyone! And it's a pleasure to meet you, Edd.