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How to write the 1,500-word (7-minutes to read) vignette and turn it into a one-act play

How to write the rhythms of life: From vignettes to one-act plays or monologues.


Anne Hart, photography and books. You also may wish to check out the slideshow online of 50 of Hart's numerous paperback book covers.


Interested in writing 1,500-word vignettes (that usually take about seven minutes to read), or perhaps the 45-minute one act play that also could be used for practice in drama workshops about healthy trends? Skits? Monologues? You could start by writing about the rhythms of life in fine detail. Start by putting direct experience in a small package and launch it worldwide with a one-act play, skit, or monologue suitable for high-school (teenage) drama classes or groups. Here's how to work with your concept and framework, and expand them into flexible characters, shapes, and plots with direction as they follow their behavioral, moral, and universal values compass of choices and outcomes.


First write your story, life event highlight, or your selected current events and social issues in short vignettes of 1,500 to 1,800 words. For historical plays, research one event in the life of your main character and expand based on the experience of that particular time in history using social issues.


Then expand the vignette into a skit, play, or monologue. You can use the techniques for writing eulogies and anecdotes or vignettes of life stories, current events, social issues, and personal histories for mini-biographies and autobiographies. Then condense or contract the life stories or personal histories into PowerPoint presentations and similar slide shows on disks using lots of photos and one-page of life story.


Finally, collect lots of vignettes and flesh-out the vignettes, linking them together into first-person diary-style novels and books, plays, skits, or other larger works. Write memoirs or eulogies for people or ghostwrite biographies and autobiographies for others.


If ghostwriting is too invisible, write biographies and vocational biographies, success stories and case histories, and customize for niche interest groups. Your main goal with personal history and life stories is to take the direct experience itself and package each story as a vignette.


The vignette can be read in ten minutes. So fill magazine space with a direct experience vignette. Magazine space needs only 1,500 words. When you link many vignettes together, each forms a book chapter or can be adapted to a play or script.


By turning vignettes into one-act plays or monologues, you learn to condense social issues into packages


One-act plays run about 45 minutes and require around 45 pages of writing. A play usually runs a page per minute of action and speech. Short plays for a teenage acting crew are easier to launch to the media.


When collected and linked together, one-act plays suitable for high-school performances are expanded from a chain of vignettes offering nourishment, direction, purpose, and information used by people who need to make choices.


Here’s how to write those inspiration-driven, persistence-driven life plays, skits, and monologues taken from vignettes and what to do with them


Use universal experience with which we all can identify. There’s a demand for direct life experiences written or produced as vignettes and presented in small packages.

Save those vignettes electronically. Later, they can be placed together as acts in a play or chapters in a book. Write in easy-to read packages. First write the vignette of about 1,500 words. Then write the monologue. Expand the monologue into a one-act play. If there are significant experiences to include, it’s better to have three one-act plays than one, long three-act play.


Break your three-act play into three one-act plays for classroom use, and practice writing, revising, and if you desire, at no cost to me, performing the plays

What you’ll get out of this book and the exercises of writing one-act plays for teenagers or older adults, and audiences of any ages, are improved skills in adapting all types of social issues, current events, or significant life experiences to 45-minute one-act plays for your teenage or older adult drama workshops.


Are you looking for the appropriate 45-minute, one-act play for high-school students or other teenagers, for community center drama workshops, or even for home school projects or for events and celebrations? Are you seeking one-act plays for older adults drama workshops? Use personal or biographical experiences as examples when you write your skit or play. If you want a really original play, write, revise, and adapt your own plays, skits, and monologues.


Here’s how to do it: Writing the 45-minute one act play


One-act plays usually run about 45 minutes and are about 45 pages in length. Allow a minute per page of playwriting. Begin by using specific examples taken from current events, history, or interview someone to record significant life events such as a role played in life or surviving an event. For skits and plays taken from significant life events or true stories, record your personal experience, personal history, or biographical resources.


Start with a general statement. Then relate the general to your specific personal experience. You don’t have to only write about yourself. You can write about someone else as long as you have accurate historical facts about that person, and you state your credible resources that can be fact-checked for accuracy.


Here’s an example of two opening sentences that state the general and then give the specific personal experience. “Mom’s a space garbage woman. She repairs satellites.” Let’s analyze all the different parts of an informed argument essay. By analyzing the result in depth instead of only skimming for breadth, you will be able to write concretely from different points of view.


Start with a concept


You’ll learn how to construct a full-length play from bare bones—from its concept. You start with a concept. Then you add at least three specific examples to your concept until it develops into a mold. A mold is a form, skeleton or foundation. Think of concept as conception. Think of mold as form or skeleton.

Think of awning as the outer skin that covers the whole essay and animates it into lively writing. You don’t want your play to be spoken in a monotone. You want writing that is animated, alive, with active voice, and able to move, motivate, or inspire readers.


The outer skin that covers the writing and animates it


Finally, you cover the mold with an awning. Look for tone, texture, and mood in your words, especially in the verbs and nouns. The mold is your pit, skeleton, framework, or foundation. Your mold contains your insight, foresight, and hindsight. It has the pitfalls to avoid and the highlights.


You need to put flesh on its bones. Then you need to cover your mold with an awning. You need to include or protect that concept and mold or form by including it under this awning of a larger topic or category. The awning holds everything together. It’s your category under which all your related topics fall. That’s what the technique of organizing your essay or personal history is all about. In abstract words, concept equals form plus details. In concrete words, story equals attitude plus details.


That’s the math formula for writing a play or skit if you’d like to put it into a logical equation of critical thinking. C = Fo + De. That’s what you need to remember about writing a play based on life stories or history: your concept is composed of your form (mold, foundation, or skeleton) and details. A concept isn’t an idea. It’s the application of your idea.


Writing from concept


The application of your idea is revealed with the attitude of each character plus the events that happen to them based on their choices. It’s like life. A concept is what your story is about. Your concept is imbedded in your story. A story can mean your personal history or any other story or anecdote in your essay, or any highlight of your life or specific life experience. A concept also can be a turning point such as rites of passage or take place at any stage of life.


Before you write a monologue, skit, or play, write it first as a short slice of life vignette. This means take a slice of life and show what happens when a significant event impacts that character’s slice of life or life story highlight. A vignette is short, usually about 1,000-1,500 words.


Vignettes usually are read in five to seven minutes


Then you can go back and add the drama as events unfold. When writing the informed argument, you will be able to give examples backed up with resources.

That’s what makes an essay great—knowing what examples to put into the essay at which specific points in time. Gone will be general, vague, or sweeping statements. Analyze and discuss the parts that chronologically will be included in your skit, play, or monologue.


Take each act of the enclosed play apart as you would take a clock or computer apart. Then put it back together with one act instead of three. Either condense the three acts into one short act about 45 pages in length lasting 45 minutes, or use one of the acts as the entire play. You would have to add some drama to bring one of the acts up to be read or acted in 45 minutes.


Slice of life is the beat, and the whole loaf is the rhythm


Now all the parts fit and work. Taking apart a play or monologue helps you understand how to plan and write your own essay-writing assignments or personal history as a time capsule. You also can re-write the monologue to become a 45-minute, 45-page one-act play. Experiment with the monologue and with the three-act play to see what parts you might want to take out or keep as you develop your one-act play.


How do you interpret family history as creative writing? Everyone’s life is worth a play, skit, monologue, or novel. Adapt any type of life story or historical event to a one-act play. To start, begin with a slice of life, a significant event or turning point that you will dramatize and turn into a one-act play suitable for a high-school drama workshop.


Here Are 50 Strategies on How to Turn A Life Story into a Play, Skit, or Monologue

If you are interviewing people to get ideas, inspiration, or details on life experiences. Here's how to start before you write a life story, including your own as a skit, play, monologue, biography, or stream of consciousness work


1. Contact anyone’s family members to gain permission to write their family member’s memorials.


2. Write memoirs of various clerical or other religious or social leaders.


3. Write two to four dozen memorials for houses of worship. Put these memorials in a larger book of memoirs for various organizations, religious groups, houses of worship, or professional associations.


4. Find a model for your biographies.


5. These could be based on a book of vocational biographies or centered on any other aspect of life such as religious or community service as well as vocations.


6. Read the various awards biographies written and presented for well-known people.

7. Focus on the accomplishments that stand out of these people or of you if you’re writing an autobiography.


8. Use oral eulogies as your foundation. You’ll find many oral eulogies that were used in memorial services.


9. Consult professionals who conduct memorial services to look at their eulogies written for a variety of people and presented at memorial services.


10. Stick to the length of a eulogy. You’ll find the average eulogy runs about 1,500 to 1,800 words. That’ is what’s known as magazine article average length. Most magazines ask for feature articles of about 1,500 words. So your eulogies should run that same length.


11. When read aloud, they make up the eulogy part of a memorial service. At 250 to 300 words double-spaced per page, it comes to about five-to-seven pages and is read aloud in about seven to 10 minutes.


12. Take each 1,500-1,800 word eulogy and focus on the highlights, significant events, and turning points. Cut the eulogy down to one page of printed magazine-style format.


13. Keep the eulogy typeset so that it all fits on one page of printed material in 12 point font.


14. You can package one-page eulogies for memorial services or include a small photo on the page if space permits.


15. Cut the eulogy down to 50-70 words, average 60 words for an oral presentation using PowerPoint software for a computer-based slide show complete with photos.


16. Put the PowerPoint show on a CD or DVD. Use the shorter eulogy focusing on significant points in the person’s life. The purpose of a PowerPoint eulogy is to show the person lived a purposeful life—a design-driven, goal-driven life with purpose and concrete meaning in relation to others.


17. Write biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies by focusing on the highlights of someone’s life or your own life story. Turn personal histories into life stories that you can launch in the media. You need to make a life story salable. It is already valuable.


18. Read autobiographies in print. Compare the autobiographies written by ghostwriters to those written by the authors of autobiographies who write about their own experiences.


19. Read biographies and compare them to autobiographies written by ghost writers and those written as diary novels in first person or as genre novels in first person. Biographies are written in third person.


20. If you write a biography in third person keep objective. If you write an autobiography in first person you can be subjective or objective if you bring in other characters and present all sides of the story equally.


21. If you’re writing a biography, whose memories are you using? If you write an autobiography, you can rely on your own memory. Writing in the third person means research verifying facts and fact-checking your resources for credibility. How reliable is the information?


22. Use oral history transcriptions, personal history, videos, audio tapes, and interviews for a biography. You can use the same for an autobiography by checking for all sides of the story with people involved in the life story—either biography or autobiography.


23. With personal histories and oral histories, be sure to obtain letters of permission and to note what is authorized. Celebrities in the public eye are written about with unauthorized or authorized biographies. However, people in private life who are not celebrities may not want their name or photo in anyone’s book. Make sure everything you have is in writing in regard to permissions and what information is permitted to be put into your book or article, especially working with people who are not celebrities and those who are.


24. When interviewing, get written approval of what was said on tape. Let the person see the questions beforehand to be able to have time to recall an answer with accuracy regarding facts and dates or times of various events. Give peoples’ memories a chance to recall memories before the interview.


25. Write autobiographies in the first person in genre or diary format. Also dramatize the autobiography in a play or skit first and then flesh it out into novel format. Another alternative is to focus only on the highlights, events, and turning points in various stages of life.


26. Ghost-written autobiographies usually are written in the first person. A ghost-writer may have a byline such as “as told to” or “with____(name of ghostwriter).”


27. Condense experience in small chunks or paragraphs. Use the time-capsule approach. Use vignettes. Focus on how people solved problems or obtained results or reached a goal. Find out whether the person wants you to mention a life purpose. Emphasize how the person overcame challenges or obstacles.


28. In an autobiography, instead of dumping your pain on others because it may be therapeutic for you, try to be objective and focus on what you learned from your choices and decisions and how what you learned transformed your life. Be inspirational and nurturing to the reader. Tell how you learned, what you learned, how you rose above your problems, and how you transcended the trouble. Focus on commitment and your relationship to others and what your purpose is in writing the autobiography.


29. Stay objective. Focus on turning points, highlights, and significant events and their relationship to how you learned from your mistakes or choices and rose above the trouble. Decide what your life purpose is and what points you want to emphasize. If you want to hide facts, decide why and what good it will do the reader. Stay away from angry writing and focus instead on depth and analysis.


30. Don’t use humor if it puts someone down, including you. Don’t put someone down to pick yourself up.


31. Make sure your writing doesn’t sound like self-worship or ego soothing. Don’t be modest, but don’t shock readers either.


32. Before you write your salable autobiography, find out where the market is and who will buy it. If there is no market, use print-on-demand publishing and select a title most likely to be commercial or help market your book. At least you can give copies to friends and family members. Or self-publish with a printer. Another way to go is to self-publish using print-on-demand software yourself. Then distribute via advertising or the Internet and your website.


33. You’d be surprised at how many people would be interested in your life story if it were packaged, designed, and promoted. So launch your life story in the media before you publish. Write your life story as a novel or play or both. Every life story has value. I believe all life stories are salable. The hard part is finding the correct niche market for your experiences. So focus on what you are and what you did so people with similar interests, hobbies, or occupations may learn from you. Market to people who are in the same situation as you are.


34. Divide your biography into the 12 stages of life. Then pare down those 12 significant events or turning points and rites of passage into four quarters—age birth to 25 (young adult), age 26-50 (mature adult), age 51-75 (creative adult) and age 76-100 (golden years of self fulfillment).


35. Start with a vignette focusing on each of the most important events and turning points of your life. Do the same in a biography, only writing in third person.


For your own life story, write in first person


36. What’s important for the reader to know about your life in relation to social history and the dates in time? For example, what did you do during the various wars?


37. Keep a journal or diary, and record events as they happen. Focus on how you relate to social history. Write in your diary each day. Use the Web and create a diary or Web blog.


38. If you keep a daily journal, and make sure it is saved on a computer disk or similar electronic diary, you can put the whole journal together and create a book or play online or have a digital recording of your life. It’s your time capsule in virtual reality.


39. A daily journal will keep memories fresh in your mind when you cut down to significant events for a book. You want to recall significant events in detail with resources.


40. If you’re young, keep a daily journal on a computer disk and keep transferring it from one technology to the next as technology evolves. Keep a spare saved and up on the Web so you can download it anytime. Use some of the free Web site space available to people online.


41. If you write a book when you’re older, at least you’ll have all the youthful memories in detail where you can transfer the notes from one computer to another or upload from your disk to a browser for publication with a print-on-demand publisher.


42. Keep writing short vignettes. Include all the details as soon as possible after the event occurs. When you are ready to write a book, you’ll be able to look back rationally and from a much more objective and mature perspective on the details. Then you can decide what to put into a salable life story that’s about to be published.


43. Don’t listen to people who tell you that if you are not famous, your life story is only fit for your own family because no one else will buy it. News stories become movies, including drama made for TV. It's about production and budget, including who has the money after the script is written.


44. There are events that happened to you or experiences in your line of work, travel, parenting, research, or lifestyle that people want to read because you have experiences to share.


45. Find a niche market of people with similar interests and market your life story to them.


46. Try out the waters first with a short vignette in magazines. If the magazines buy your vignette, your slice of life story, then you can write a book. Can you imagine if all the travelers and archaeologists, parenting experts and teachers didn’t value their life story to the point that they thought it was fit only for relatives (who may be the only ones not interested in reading it because they already know your life story). In fact, your relatives may be angry at you for spilling the details to the public.


47. Instead, focus on that part of your life where you made a choice or decision with which everyone can identify. Inspire and motivate readers. If your experience is universal, we can all identify with it. We all go through the same stages of life.


48. So let us know how you overcame your obstacles, solved problems, and rose above the keen competition.


49. Or if you didn’t, let us know how you learned to live with and enjoy your life. Readers want nourishment. If your life isn’t about making a difference in the world, then write about how you handled what we all go through.


50. We want to read about the joy of life, and your design-driven life full of purpose, meaning, and inspiration. We want to read about the universal in you with which we can identify. Most of all readers want information in a life story or personal history from which we can make our own choices. Keep your life story as a novel to 12 to 24 short chapters. Write in short, readable chunks.