Cross-Training Writers

One important aspect of any creative writing program is cross-training.  Writers are expected to take courses in several genres, not just the genre they plan to work in or complete their thesis in.  Thus the introductory writing course here covers the four genres offered: fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry.  Right now, I’m in the middle of the drama section—something I’ve never attempted writing before.


I’m finding this section both interesting (it is fun to try something new) and challenging.  We just handed in a four-page stage play, which is basically four pages of dialogue.  While I’ve attended lots of plays, trying to recreate that on paper was tough.  Honestly, all my characters can do is talk?  Everything I want to happen has to fit into their speech?  That’s hard!

At the same time, I can see how that could help my fiction writing.  Strong dialogue is important in fiction as much as in drama, so if I can write dialogue that’s good enough to hang a whole story on, then it will help when I’m writing short stories and novels too.


Our next project to is a five-minute complete screenplay, which is due on Monday (as a draft) and which I haven’t started on yet.  To be honest, I’m a bit worried about it.  I’ve probably talked before about being a novelist at heart… short is hard to write.  Sure, I’ve done it (and I’ve even had three of my short stories published now) but most of my ideas run longer (one of those published stories is actually the first chapter of a novel idea).  So doing a complete story within five minutes seems daunting.

Even as I see the value in studying drama, I’m honestly not sure I can see myself taking it any further.  I’ve considered finishing the four-page stage play that I started—but I could also just convert it to a short story and send it to Pages of Stories.  Trying to get a play produced sounds like a huge amount of work (the director of a local theatre came to our class on Monday to tell us about that process) for very little pay.  I’m glad that others have a passion for stage and screen, because I like theatre and movies as much as anyone else.  I just can’t see my writing going that direction.

Show Comments


  1. Koala Bear Writer February 1, 2011
  2. Anonymous January 27, 2011
  3. Writer Mom January 27, 2011

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.