Reflections on 31 Plays in 31 Days 2014

This year’s 31 Plays in 31 Days is, in my opinion, my most productive and useful yet. I decided to use it to focus on the particular projects I wanted to develop.

When Bernie and I were working on Adonis, we mostly worked well, except we experienced the occasional clash over how how we generated ideas. I tended to be very targeted and to the point— perhaps over-influenced by my dislike of wasted effort —whereas he often needed to work up to things, spin details that may or may not be useable just to see what might come from them. It often frustrated me if I needed an answer to a specific story problem, but he often was able to think outside the box to find solutions when I was getting stuck in it. I bring this up because I notice even in 31P31D, I had a resistance to working on any scene I didn’t think was going to work in context. But experimentation of that nature often brings up things you can’t think of if you only stay in your current paradigm. A thing like 31P31D lowers the barrier for me at least a little bit, and helps me break out of that mindset. Which I definitely think is good for me.

Mrs. Hawking – 12 – 39%
Base Instruments – 7 – 23%
– What If I Don’t Want To?
– Haven’t I Always?
– Your Vessel Has Not Betrayed You
– Look Where That Got Him
– Family Dinner
– Glad to Be Your Man
– The Cuff
Miss Stanton – 1 – 3%
– The Hand You’ve Been Dealt
Ripper – 2 – 6%
– Distinguished Matron in Widow’s Weeds
– Being Married
Otherwise – 2 – 6%
– A Few Days’ Leave
– Do You Miss It?

Disgraced – 6 – 19%
– Companion
– No One Knows You Here
– Repute
– Humiliated
– Adventure Abroad
– No One’s Cad

Brockhurst – 2 – 6%
– Because I Know You’re Not
– As Sisters Should

Fan fiction – 6 – 19%
Cabin Pressure: San Tropez
– Meet Trudy and Cliff
– The Bobsled
– Not Speaking to You
– Ordinary Level of Horrid
– Old Romantic
– Vibrant Rays of Sunshine

Adonis – 4 – 13%
“Sequel”
– I Have Weathered You All
– The Stuff of Their Dreams
– Make History
– Burn Your Empire

Other – 1 – 3%
– Never Really Here

Last year I made a good start on Vivat Regina with 31P31D, so I wanted to do the same for the next installment Base Instruments. I wrote myself a whopping SEVEN scenes for it, and though they may not all be ready for inclusion, or even possible to use at all, I am pleased at the raw material I generated. As with that, I know I have a ton of work to do to figure out the overstructure of the plot, but this is a very good start on the trajectory of the characters.

My favorite scene I wrote for it was Look Where That Got Him, which was very emotionally important for Nathaniel and Clara. I also liked the ideas in Your Vessel Has Not Betrayed You. Though honestly there’s something I like in every single one. Of the non-Base Instruments Hawking scenes, I like the intensity and impending violence of Distinguished Matron in Widow’s Weeds, and the way the future Mrs. Frost lays the smackdown on the totally different young Victoria Stanton in The Hand You’ve Been Dealt.

The Cabin Pressure fan fic pieces were harder than I expected them to be. Humor is not my forte, and I was trying to imitate another writer’s distinctive style. Especially for the later pieces, when I was just struggling to finish them on time, I don’t think I did a great job. I plan to do a lot of editing, and hopefully I’ll nail it then. My favorite of them is probably The Bobsled; I think it’s funny and I got the most right in it.

Working on Disgraced made me realize just how little I know about that idea. I know pretty well what I would want for Elise’s trajectory, but other than that, I don’t know much yet. I want Rosaline to be an equal lead with her, and I need to figure out what’s going on in Newport at that time, and what other figures would be in that world. My favorite scene I wrote for this was Humiliated; I really love the character of Marcus Loring, even though he’s a total ass. I didn’t write nearly as much for Brockhurst as I thought I would. But I think there’s a lot of material there. I think I was a little stalled because I wouldn’t just want it to be a Downton Abbey ripoff.

I’m really excited to eventually work on the Adonis sequel, which is why pieces showed up this time even though I know like nothing about it. The shape of the first one required really careful planning, so I’m certain the subsequent parts— of which I think there has to be two more —will as well. Enough that I hardly had enough to go on in attempting scenes. But I just think there’s such powerful potential there. I think my favorite scene I wrote was either I Have Weathered You All or Burn Your Empire because I love the stark truths they reveal about two of my leads.

The characters I wrote about most frequently are, in order:
– Victoria Hawking – 5
– Elise Charnmore – 5
– Douglas Richardson – 5
– Martin Crieff – 5
– Mary Stone – 4
– Nathaniel Hawking – 4
– Carolyn Knapp-Shappey – 4
– Arthur Shappey – 3
– Trudy Cadwallader – 3
– Clifford Speedwell III – 3
– Clara Hawking – 2
– Arthur Swann – 2
– Rosaline Bay – 2
– Abigail Bellamy – 2
– Aidan – 2
– Diana – 2
– Morna – 2
– Saturnina – 2
– Elena Zakharova – 1
– Elizabeth Frost – 1
– Queen Victoria – 1
– Beatrice Hawking – 1
– Reggie Hawking – 1
– Daisy Marcotte – 1
– Eleanor Haverhill – 1
– Enid Brome – 1
– Marcus Loring – 1
– Rowan Loring – 1
– Christian Chase – 1
– Claudia Bellamy – 1
– Callisto – 1
– Beast – 1
– Maid – 1

Obviously property leads tended to appear most often. And some characters are just inspiring to me. I like having lots of scenes with the same characters, as it helps flesh them out.

Other trivia for this month. Longest scene was Look Where That Got Him with Nathaniel and Clara. Shortest was I Have Weathered You All with Aidan and Saturnina.

The one with the most characters is Meet Trudy and Cliff, which has all the Cabin Pressure lead cast plus my two original characters.

My favorite was Look Where That Got Him. My least favorite is probably either Make History or Vibrant Rays of Sunshine— I was struggling just to finish and it shows.

My favorite lines? Clara’s “The Colonel loved her too, Nathaniel. And look where that got him.” Douglas’s “Do you at least take the hat off for that? Or does she like you to keep it on?” from The Bobsled. Marcus’s “You didn’t scream for me because I was a saint,” from Humiliated. Elise’s “And I do so enjoy the, uh… the persistent cherub motif in the décor,” in No One Knows You Here, at least in context. And Morna’s “All that I did when I was only a slave. And now? Now I am a slave no longer,” from Burn Your Empire; her entire speech at the end, really.

I’d be curious if any of you had favorites, scenes, characters, whatever. Or anything you particularly hated. If you care to let me know.

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