Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant

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Julie Jensen's new book can be read in an hour. It will tell you everything you need to know about playwriting and is an excellent companion along the way: You'll get tips on how to begin your work and invaluable guidelines for rewriting. Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant is an exceedingly useful and pragmatic guide to approaching the task of writing a play.
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Julie Jensen's new book can be read in an hour. It will tell you everything you need to know about playwriting and is an excellent companion along the way: You'll get tips on how to begin your work and invaluable guidelines for rewriting. Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant is an exceedingly useful and pragmatic guide to approaching the task of writing a play.
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Editorial Reviews

Deseret News
Jensen's easy, witty, conversational style makes for fast, enjoyable reading and will make a great reference work as a person tries to write a play. She talks about images and issues. "Images make a play turn over in the pit of my stomach. They appeal to something deeper than the story or the characters."

About sound, Jensen writes, "For me finding the right sound is the most satisfying search. Going after the fewest number of words to say the biggest thing, finding those very words, and then hearing them said right, sung right -- that is one of life's great pleasures."

To the question, "What comes first?" Jensen replies that "It doesn't matter." But it does matter that at the end, character, story, issue, sound or image all engage in a way that makes the play work.

One of Jensen's most effective statements is "I typically write dozens of scenes in quick succession. I know that most of these scenes will eventually end up in the play, but at the time I'm writing them I do not know where. I feel very free, at this stage, to wander all around, experiment with all sorts of places, character combinations and styles. It's fun, I'm excited, I feel like a genius."

Finally, Jensen lays it on the line: "If I were you, I would not become a playwright if I wanted to be either rich or famous. And I would not become a playwright if I needed a lot of positive regard all the time. On the other hand, being a playwright is good if you like public humiliation now and then, and if you are good at swallowing hard and going on. In other words, playwriting is high- risk behavior."
—Dennis Lythgoe
Stage Directions-Off The Shelf
Playwright/Author Julie Jensen says that her favorite book on writing is Strunk & White's classic Elements of Style, so it's no surprise that her Playwriting: Brief & Brilliant is similarly succinct in its approach to the essentials of dialog, character and plot. Jensen takes a pragmatic approach, offering the playwright (or wannabe) excellent advice, while emphasizing how each writer must also find his or her own voice. Also included are sections on writer's block, rewrites and marketing a play.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575255705
  • Publisher: Smith & Kraus, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Series: Career Development Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 236,110
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Jensen was reared in southern Utah. She has a PhD in theater from Wayne State University in Detroit and has taught playwriting at seven different colleges and universities. She worked as a writer in Hollywood for five years and until recently directed the graduate playwriting program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is now Resident Playwright at Salt Lake Acting Company.

Jensen is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for New American Plays (White Money), the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work (The Lost Vegas Series), and the LA Weekly Award for Best New Play (Two-Headed). She has received the McKnight National Playwriting Fellowship (WAIT!), the TCG/NEA Playwriting Residency (WAIT!), and a major grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts (Dust Eaters). She has won the Mill Mountain Theater Playwriting Competition three times (Tender Hooks, Last Lists of My Mad Mother, and Two-Headed). Her play, Two-Headed, was included in the volume Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2000, she has twice been nominated by the American Theater Critics Association for the best new play produced outside New York (Last Lists of My Mad Mother and Dust Eaters), and she was a finalist for the PEN USA Award for Drama (Dust Eaters).

Her work has been produced in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as in New York and theaters nationwide. She has been commissioned by Mark Taper Forum, ASK Theater Projects, Kennedy Center, Actors Theater of Louisville, Salt Lake Acting Company, Geva Theater, and Philadelphia Theater Company. Her work is published by Dramatic Publishing, Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, Inc., Heinemann, and Smith and Kraus, Inc
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Table of Contents


Image and Issue
So What Comes First?
Writer's Block
Thinking Like a Playwright
The Rewrite
Developing Your Play
Marketing Your Play
These Are a Few of My Favorite Plays
About the Author
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My favorite book on writing has always been Strunk and White's Elements of Style. They lay it out for you simply and directly, and they do not go on. You feel confident when you read that book; you don't feel overwhelmed or discouraged. So I've tried to do that same thing for playwriting. I've laid it all out for you without going on.

I have just one suggestion before you begin. If you're inclined to write a play, you might want to read this book quickly, write your play, then read it again more carefully. It is definitely not a good idea to make yourself nuts with requirements, then try to make your play fit them. Tell the damn story. Then let this book help you fix it.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    Excellent, readable book. Ms Jensen has a very conversational s

    Excellent, readable book. Ms Jensen has a very conversational style and impacts good, solid information for new playwrights. As a published author of fiction, I found her insights into theatre very helpful. I highly recommend this book. I wish she wrote another.

    5 stars

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