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The Playwrights Forum > The Art & Craft of Writing > Synopses and Cover Letters > Help Please

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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 03:09 pm
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Sircmichaels
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Mana: 
Okay,

I have several plays that I am shopping around and, while I have gotten good feedback overall on my submissions, I have come to the conclusion that my synopsis (synopsi, synopsises?) and cover letters are a) too dry for the material I am submitting and b) not interesting, and c) I suspect I might be too casual with my approach.

Here is a mild example. Please feel free to tear me apart, offer me a bucket to soak my head in, whatever it takes.

- Sirc

*****

Dear <insert name here - typically Mr. or Ms. Whatever, or the First name depending>,

Greetings.

My name is Sirc Michaels. I am a produced playwright currently living in Amarillo TX. I am interested in submitting my play PATRIOS for your consideration.

PATRIOS

a brief synopsis:

PATRIOS (13m, 3f - 10m, 3f with doubling) is a satire set in a future America where the State Church of Christ helps make the laws and the Homeland Morality Force enforces them. An examination, albeit a tongue-in-cheek one, of America following September 11th 2001, the play explores themes such as patriotism vs. blind obedience, religion's role in modern society, and the fear that America as a nation is in a downward slide.

PATRIOS was produced by Amarillo College and entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for which I received an award for playwriting.

I have attached <either the complete script, ten pages, a monkey and a rock - whatever they ask for> as well as a character breakdown and production notes. 

I hope you find what you read intriguing and look forward to speaking to you further about the possibility of production in the future.

Sincerely,

Sirc Michaels

*****

Okay - what is wrong with this? I feel something is but being a playwright and not a synopsiswright I can't quite put my finger - or keystroke - on it.

Thanks!

- Sirc  

Last edited on Thu Jan 31st, 2008 04:31 pm by Sircmichaels

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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 05:49 pm
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kris
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Mana: 
Hi, Sircmichaels, stalwart of the 30-day submission spree,

First of all, you must realize that I know nothing about playwriting or synopses, and whatever "expertise" I have is based in journalism and book-editing.  Please keep that in mind as you read my suggestions.

First of all, I would ditch the "Greetings." It sounds too much like the IRS or the draft board, and is unnecessary after "Hello, whomever."

Second, I would put who you are and where you live farther down, if not delete it entirely. Your name, address, etc., will be under your signature, so it's superfluous up above -- which is where you want to capture their interest.

I would showcase the fact that the play has been produced at the college and presented (read, nominated, whatever) at the Kennedy Center, and would "lead" with this information. Something like:

"I hope you'll take a look at the enclosed play, "Patrios," which was presented blah blah blah."  That way they know it's producible and interesting right off the bat. Then you can  hit them with the synopsis.  (As an aside, you needn't say you're a produced playwright after you let them know that your play has been produced.)

The synopsis itself is OK, although a bit general. Maybe mention a couple of characters, a relationship, something a little more specific to give some life to the abstraction.

You might also include a playwrights' bio/resume along with character breakdown, production notes, etc. That way they can see that you've been produced, won awards, etc., and you don't have to actually tell them in your letter.

The last sentence is fine, although "in the future" is implied in "possibility" and so is redundant and weedy.

Again -- this is all from a perspective that's about 28 degrees off! So get out the salt.
I do hope something is helpful, though.

Regards,
kris


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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 07:09 pm
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Mana: 
Go to the topic on this thread just before your post called


"reveal surprise twist in synopsis - yes or no? "

Go to katoagogo's post and she has some most interesting and informative posts on her website.

You can also see this matter discussed if you continue to search through the other previous posts on this thread as well.

Yes, i would agree your letter and synopses is pretty darn dry! Glad you are questioning it.

You should find some great info if you search out the site. It is a touch call to say whether it was produced already. Soooooo many theatres close their minds, doors creativity and profits - or non-profits! - to second productions, which convinces me most that sooooo many theatres are nuts. Why should a theatre in Pennsylvania be worried because you had a production in Florida???!!!!! But, if you mention the production, you should always state something like, "I maintain all rights to the play."
They want to be assured that there will be no conflict of interest if they decide to do your play.


best,

in media res

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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 07:36 pm
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Mana: 
Go to the topic on this thread just before your post called


"reveal surprise twist in synopsis - yes or no? "

Go to katoagogo's post and she has some most interesting and informative posts on her website.

You can also see this matter discussed if you continue to search through the other previous posts on this thread as well.

Yes, i would agree your letter and synopseis is pretty darn dry! Glad you are questioning it.

You should find some great info if you search out the site. It is a touch call to say whether it was produced already. Soooooo many theatres close their minds, doors creativity and profits - or non-profits! - to second productions, which convinces me most that sooooo many theatres are nuts. Why should a theatre in Pennsylvania be worried because you had a production in Florida???!!!!! But, if you mention the production, you should always state something like, "I maintain all rights to the play."
They want to be assured that there will be no conflict of interest if they decide to do your play.


best,

in media res

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 Posted: Mon Feb 4th, 2008 09:54 pm
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Sircmichaels
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Mana: 
Okay. Here is my new letter / synopsis. Any thoughts?

Greetings. My name is Sirc Michaels. I am submitting my play PATRIOS for your consideration.
Brief synopsis:
The Dictator of America is holding conversations with God (well, sort of). The Homeland Morality Force is performing summary executions for crimes as heinous as public vulgarity and premarital intercourse. The country is about to be wiped out by a deadly virus. Can a disillusioned patriot, a band of ragtag moral deviants, and a blind sharpshooter named Melvin save the country before it implodes?
Part Cyberpunk Macbeth, part multi-media fable, and part political satire, PATRIOS is a futuristic farce that explores themes of patriotism vs. blind obedience, religion's role in modern society, and what the difference is between terrorism and freedom fighting. At its core the play is an examination - albeit a tongue in cheek one - of America during the aftermath of September 11th.
PATRIOS was produced by Amarillo College in Amarillo TX and was entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for which it received an award for playwriting.
I have been writing for the stage for over a decade and am a member of the Dramatists Guild. I have written commissioned works for Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem PA and for Viriginia Opera in Norfolk VA, as well as having productions mounted of my shows at various venues throughout the US.
As a playwright, director, producer, and all-around theatre practitioner, my intention is to provide entertainment that persons not ordinarily interested in theatre (typically college age) will find appealing, while still offering something more provocative than simply tap-dance routines or men in tights spouting misunderstood dialogue.
Attached you will find the script as well as the character breakdown, production notes, and title page. I hope you find what you read intriguing and I look forward to hearing from you.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 4th, 2008 11:11 pm
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Mana: 
This is just a quick rearrangement of your letter.



Dear so and so:

Can a disillusioned patriot, a band of ragtag moral deviants, and a blind sharpshooter named Melvin save the country before it implodes?
Part Cyberpunk Macbeth, part multi-media fable, PATRIOS is a futuristic play about what happens when a country is desperate and on the brink of the brink...but of what, they don't know!

PATRIOS was produced by Amarillo College in Amarillo Texas and was entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for which it received an award for playwriting. (NAME THE AWARD?)

PATRIOS was produced by Amarillo College in Amarillo TX and was entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for which it received an award for playwriting.

I have been writing for the stage for over a decade and am a member of the Dramatists Guild. I have written commissioned works for Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem PA and for Viriginia Opera in Norfolk VA, as well as having productions mounted of my shows at various venues throughout the US. As a playwright my intention is to provide appealing and provocative entertainment that the young adult audience would be excited to see.

Attached you will find the script (OR FIRST TEN OR FIFTEEN PAGES) as well as the character breakdown, and title page. I hope you find what you read intriguing and I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours truly,

Sirc Michaels


SOME GENERAL NOTES.

I think you put in too much. Let them wonder. I would find the less said more intriguing. Never introduce yourself at the top. You sign the letter below in the Closing.

(Never say satire - American Theatres do not understand satire. They hardly understand politics or economics. They think satire is Saturday Night Live.)

THIS BELOW NOT NEEDED. LET YOUR 10 PAGE OR 15 PAGE DIALOGUE SAMPLE DO ITS JOB. AND I WOULD NEVER USE THE WORDS HOMELAND OR MORALITY IN THE TITLE OF THE GOVERNMENT. MAKE UP YOUR OWN NAMES FOR THEM. THOSE WORDS ARE LOADED UP ALREADY WITH TOO MUCH BAGGAGE. MAKE YOU NAMES MORE INTRIGUING!
The Dictator of America is holding conversations with God (well, sort of). The Homeland Morality Force is performing summary executions for crimes as heinous as public vulgarity and premarital intercourse. The country is about to be wiped out by a deadly virus.

, and part political satire, farce that explores themes of patriotism vs. blind obedience, religion's role in modern society, and what the difference is between terrorism and freedom fighting. At its core the play is an examination - albeit a tongue in cheek one - of America during the aftermath of September 11th.

THIS SOUNDS SMARMY AND STUPID.
while still offering something more provocative than simply tap-dance routines or men in tights spouting misunderstood dialogue.

Also, don't mention you are a director or any of the other stuff. You are writing about playwriting. Don't confuse them. They will get confused. They have directors. American theatre is sadly very compartmentalized.

i have no idea if this will help. Just my two cents.

best,

in media res

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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 12:15 am
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Sircmichaels
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Mana: 
Hmm...yes, I see what you are saying about the wordiness...

And the award was, simply enough, an award for playwriting for Patrios. Nothing special, no trophy. All I got was a ruddy certificate that I think is buried in a box somewhere.


I like what you did with the reworking. Do you mind if I use it?

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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 12:26 am
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Mana: 
By all means, please use it.

Then just mention the award as you had originally mentioned it.

in media res

Remember, sell the sizzle, not the steak.

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