Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Writing Challege #30 - I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, But…


Hi folks,

We have arrived at the final challenge for November 2023.

For those of you who wrote every single day this month, well done!

For those of you who wrote some but maybe not every day, also well done!

You all have more writing in hand than you did at the end of October, and that was the whole point.

Hopefully all of you have at least one or two ideas you want to continue pursuing in the year ahead.

For those of you who were new this year, thanks for finding us.  

For those of you who enjoyed it enough last year to come back and do it again, we were happy to see so many familiar names.  

Thanks to all of you for prioritizing your writing a little bit every day.  

And though It’s dicey making pronouncements about anything a year out, the plan is to definitely do this again next November.  So if you found it useful, mark your calendars. And spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.

Once everyone’s turned in what they’re going to write for this last challenge day, I’ll tally everything up and follow up with an email to everyone who looks like they did all 30 days (or got close on my daily tracking chart), just to confirm with everyone and make sure I didn’t accidentally miss anybody.

If you don’t hear from me and feel like you should be hearing from me, by all means reach out.  I’ve been endeavoring to catch things that slipped through the cracks or got lost in technology somewhere as we went along, but I could very well have missed something. Gmail’s been a little funkier this year than the previous two years.

Then we’ll confirm your mailing addresses where to send the check (we’re new, so we don’t have a credit card or Venmo/CashApp account or anything like that - so it’s old school handwritten checks).  You can all tell people you were paid by a theater company for your writing and it will be true, you can even show them evidence :)

Thanks again for participating, everybody!

It was a bit of a marathon for me on this end, too, but it was worth it to see you all cranking out those pages of dialogue and sketches of ideas.  Even your little escape hatch plays some days were quite inventive and entertaining.

Again, well done, one and all!

And now, let’s get you that final writing prompt for November 2023…



**************************************

Challenge #30 - I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, But…

Due: Friday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)


 

My singer/songwriter friend Chris Koza and his band Rogue Valley released a new double album recently called “Shell Game,” and on it there was a track called “Spell It Out” that on first listen I could almost think was about a person who felt a bit dense about the status of their relationship and was asking for clarification.  On a second listen, however, it immediately became clear this jaunty little, upbeat tune wasn’t about that at all.  But I still needed to ask Chris, “Am I reading this wrong, or this a song about someone who wants a sign from someone they love who’s dead?”  Chris confirmed that yes, that indeed is what the song is about, I wasn’t misinterpreting the meaning:

"If you can hear me,
Let me know you can hear me.
Make a light go on,
Make a door open.
Make it something I won't miss
Unmistakable and obvious.
Spell it out for me.

If you just tell me,
Let me know, you just tell me.
I've got so many questions,
Collecting like ashes.
Give me something I can keep,
A song that I play on repeat.
Spell it out for me.

Don't wait, don't wait.
Tomorrow is a long way.
Right now, right now,
I'd do anything you say.

If I can feel you,
Let me know you can feel me, too.
Let the rain pour down.
Let the sun come out.
Make it unforgettable,
Something only I could know.
Something short and sweet,
A little surprising.
Spell it out for me."


It’s track 9 here


One morning recently, I woke with a start because it felt like someone had sat down on the edge of my bed.

But no one was there.

To clarify, I live alone, no partner, no roommate, no pets.

Freaky as that was, it still was way too early to actually get up and out of bed yet, so I cautiously laid back down and went to sleep again.

But then I woke again, startled by the sensation that someone was sitting down on the edge of my bed again.

Now, I don’t have a long list of experiences to slot into that particular sensation for reference.

My social life has not been filled with people staying the night and being there in the morning to gently rouse me or anything.  I’m normally the early riser in a situation like that anyway.

Honestly, the only person who’s ever really sat down on the edge of my bed while I was sleeping, because for whatever reason it was time to get up, or they were checking on me because I was sick, was my mother.

And Mom’s been dead for over four years.

So the sensation, and the fact that it was repeated, was unnerving.

And the notion of the only person I could slot into that situation in my head was also unnerving.

I suppose as a reminder of a loved one who’s gone, of times past, it was nice in a strange way.

But still very weird.

Things like that don’t happen to me.

And yet this happened.

My brother has had a very different relationship with our mother since she died.

He used to talk to her every day when she was alive.

He admitted he still talks to her every day now, even though she can’t really respond.

Or can she?

He makes a habit on significant days a couple of times a year of driving all the way out to the middle of nowhere to visit Mom’s grave (no offense to Milton, Pennsylvania, it holds a storied place in our family history, as well as the family plot in the cemetery on a hill just outside of town - but look it up on a map, then zoom out and out and out and you’ll see that every major named city in the state is hours away by car, often several hours away).

And he will call me while he’s there, so that I can say hi if I want - to her.

One time I missed the call, but was able to call back pretty quickly, and he was already in the car and driving out of the cemetery on his way home, but he asked, “Do you want me to go back, so you can talk to her?” I assured him no, that was fine, he could keep driving and he and I could chat instead for a bit, which we did.

He will take things, little visual inside jokes, and set them on the gravestone and then take pictures and send them to me.

One time he took the dog with him - a dog that had lived with Mom for several years.  And when my brother let the dog out of the car, the dog trotted right over to Mom’s grave.  Not any other plot, not the grave markers of grandma or granddad, Mom’s parents, on either side of her.  Nope.  Dog went right to her without any prompting or guidance.

I enjoy stories of the supernatural, but I don’t really believe in the supernatural.

But I do have to admit, when someone you know dies, particularly someone you love, things can occasionally get very, very weird.


So write something about that, or in that neighborhood.  
What are your stories?  
What does any of that make you think of?

Have fun with it.

Take a swing at that for our final outing.

Or, like always, write whatever you want.

Just write.  Something.  For one last day in November (this year).

Again, folks, well done.

Happy writing to you all!


*************************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #30:

Magical Realism

Or 2022’s challenge #30:

Storytelling Obsessions

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day 

 

*************************************

How to submit your work for Challenge #30

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #30
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Friday, December 1st, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)


**************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Friday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have another 11 months (until the next November writing challenge) to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************

And that something can be:



Lights up.

A character is walking out of a room.

Behind them, a light flickers.

The person stops, turns around, look at the light.

The light flickers again.

“Robert?”

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his) 


Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Writing Challenge #29 - Snapshots 5

Hi folks

28 down, 2 to go!

We’ve nearly reached the end of November, folks.

Hang in there and keep on writing :)

Last year someone in my writing group (who shall remain nameless) was… pestering is a negative word so let’s just say enthusiastically and repeatedly suggesting… that “you should let all those writers know about the writing group and see if they might be interested in attending.”

Which wasn’t a bad idea.

But I did remind the person that the majority of the writers doing the challenge often aren’t local, and are situated in states all across the USA, sometimes also in Canada.  So the time zones don’t always perfectly align.

In our time being fully online in 2021, we had a number of people in different states sitting in - but sometimes it was challenging because they were either an hour ahead or behind of the Central Time zone meeting hours of 7pm to 9pm.  Still, we did make it work.  Even now, in hybrid mode, with some folks meeting in person, there’s still a number of (even local) people who prefer or need to attend via video conference on the computer.  So we have the capability of including folks wherever there’s internet connectivity.  (Sadly our friend who moved from Minneapolis to Norway for a graduate program isn’t going able to join us - it’s always the middle of the night for her when we meet.  Less extreme time zone differences may be workable.)

A handful of people did join us last year and a couple became regulars, which is fun.

Here’s an overview of how the group works

If you think you might be interested, just drop me a note.

Now, let’s get you that writing prompt…

 

*********************************************

Challenge #29 - Snapshots 5

Due: Thursday, November 30th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)


One last assortment of random elements to spur your thought process from our co-founder and managing director David Schlosser:

A dead body
A rusted bike
A cemetery in the winter
A phone booth
A burn out motel sign
A fireworks display


If none of those cause a creative spark, revisit our previous snapshot image lists to see if anything there might be useful to get things going:

Snapshots 1

Snapshots 2

Snapshots 3

Snapshots 4


Or, as ever, write whatever you like.

Just write.  Something.

Just two days more to the end of our challenge marathon.


************************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #29:

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, and The Future

Or 2022’s challenge #29:

Messages After You’re Gone

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day


************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #29

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #29
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Thursday, November 30th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Thursday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have one more day to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************

And that something can be:



Lights up.

The neon in the motel sign by the road has seen better days.

Amusingly (for some), it just says “MO” with the unfortunate (?) coincidence (?) that there’s a message on the sign below the neon to passing motorists that says:

“Entrance in the rear”

There is, inexplicably, still a phone booth with a working pay phone out front.

We know it’s working because it begins to ring.

Someone passing by notices the phone ringing.

Looks around.

No one else here.

They walk over to the phone booth and pick up the receiver to see who in the world might be calling.

They are surprised by the answer.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Monday, November 27, 2023

Writing Challenge #28 - Contronyms


Hi folks,

27 down, 3 to go!

We’ve nearly reached the end of November.  Well done, everybody!

We started with 57 writers, 54 of whom were regularly turning in some pages in those first couple of days.  Over the last three weeks, that number has slowly diminished but we have never dropped below 41, and are often much higher than that in daily submissions.

For comparison, the first year of the challenge in 2021 we had 47 writers, last year we had 40.  As of November 25th in those years, they were down to regular submissions from 31 writers the first year, and just 23 writers last year.  The first year they started with 44 writers regularly turning in work, and last year they started with 34.

You’ve all already turned in more pieces of writing as of right now than either of the first two groups of writers did in the whole month of November - 1,206 (and counting…) this year, vs. 1,021 script bits the first year, and 812 last year.

So now I understand a little better why I’ve had such a hard time keeping up with you all this year.  There’s just been so many more writers doing so much more writing.  And that’s what we want.

So Yay!   But also, Phew!

The total page count at the moment is over 3,400, which is more than 28 full-length plays’ worth of pages of dialogue so, nicely done, everybody.

That page count in progress has already more than eclipsed last year’s total pages so, wow.  Hasn’t passed year one yet but we have a few days left, we might get there as well.

And it’s not about the quantity so much as it’s just the habit of regularly writing that we wanted everyone to get into over the course of the month.  The numbers are just a reflection of the practice, for the most basic of comparisons.

Good job, one and all!

Always remember, if you miss one day, don’t beat yourself up, just write again the next day.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…


***********************************

Challenge #28 - Contronyms

Due: Wednesday, November 29th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



The internet knows I like weird English language rules, and so it serves me up random suggestions of things to read on the topic on a regular basis.  Just last week, I was pointed to an article by Judith Herman on Mental Floss about contronyms, which are words that are their own opposites.  

The contronym (also spelled “contranym”) goes by many names, including auto-antonym, antagonym, enantiodrome, self-antonym, antilogy and Janus word (from the Roman god of beginnings and endings, often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions)

For instance:

SANCTION (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean "give official permission or approval for (an action)" or conversely, "impose a penalty on."

OVERSIGHT is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” Oversee, from Old English ofersēon ("look at from above") means "supervise" (medieval Latin for the same thing: super-, "over" plus videre, "to see.") Overlook usually means the opposite: "to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore."

Judith proposed the sentence:
“Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.”
Does that mean, "Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression,"
or does it mean, "Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default"?

LEFT can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)

DUST, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.

SEED can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.

STONE is another verb to use with caution. You can stone some peaches, but please don’t stone your neighbor (even if he says he likes to get stoned).

TRIM as a verb predates the noun, but it can also mean either adding or taking away. Arising from an Old English word meaning "to make firm or strong; to settle, arrange," trim came to mean "to prepare, make ready." Depending on who or what was being readied, it could mean either of two contradictory things: "to decorate something with ribbons, laces, or the like to give it a finished appearance" or "to cut off the outgrowths or irregularities of." And the context doesn’t always make it clear. If you’re trimming the tree are you using tinsel or a chain saw?

CLEAVE can be cleaved into two homographs, words with different origins that end up spelled the same. Cleave, meaning "to cling to or adhere," comes from an Old English word that took the forms cleofian, clifian, or clīfan. Cleave, with the contrary meaning "to split or sever (something)"—as you might do with a cleaver—comes from a different Old English word, clēofan. The past participle has taken various forms: cloven, which survives in the phrase “cloven hoof,” “cleft,” as in a “cleft palate” or “cleaved.”

RESIGN works as a contronym in writing. This time we have homographs, but not homophones. Resign, meaning "to quit," is spelled the same as resign, meaning "to sign up again," but it’s pronounced differently.

FAST can mean "moving rapidly," as in running fast, or "fixed, unmoving," as in holding fast. If colors are fast they will not run. The meaning "firm, steadfast" came first; the adverb took on the sense "strongly, vigorously," which evolved into "quickly," a meaning that spread to the adjective.

OFF means "deactivated," as in to turn off, but also "activated," as in the alarm went off.

WEATHER can mean "to withstand or come safely through" (as in the company weathered the recession) or it can mean "to be worn away" (the rock was weathered).

SCREEN can mean to show (a movie) or to hide (an unsightly view).

HELP means "assist," unless you can’t help doing something, when it means "prevent."

CLIP can mean "to bind together" or "to separate." You clip sheets of paper to together or separate part of a page by clipping something out. Clip is a pair of homographs, words with different origins spelled the same. Old English clyppan, which means "to clasp with the arms, embrace, hug," led to our current meaning, "to hold together with a clasp." The other clip, "to cut or snip (a part) away," is from Old Norse klippa, which may come from the sound of a shears.

CONTINUE usually means to persist in doing something, but as a legal term it means stop a proceeding temporarily.

FIGHT WITH can be interpreted three ways. “He fought with his mother-in-law” could mean "They argued," "They served together in the war," or "He used the old battle-ax as a weapon." (Thanks to linguistics professor Robert Hertz for this idea.)

FLOG, meaning "to punish by caning or whipping," shows up in school slang of the 17th century, but now it can have the contrary meaning, "to promote persistently," as in “flogging a new book.” Perhaps that meaning arose from the sense "to urge (a horse, etc.) forward by whipping," which grew out of the earliest meaning.

GO means "to proceed," but also "give out or fail," i.e., “This car could really go until it started to go.”

HOLD UP can mean "to support" or "to hinder": “What a friend! When I’m struggling to get on my feet, he’s always there to hold me up.”

OUT can mean "visible" or "invisible." For example, “It’s a good thing the full moon was out when the lights went out.”

OUT OF means "outside" or "inside": “I hardly get out of the house because I work out of my home.”

B**CH can derisively refer to a woman who is considered overly aggressive or domineering, or it can refer to someone passive or submissive.

PEER is a person of equal status (as in a jury of one’s peers), but some peers are more equal than others, like the members of the peerage, the British or Irish nobility.

TOSS OUT could be either "to suggest" or "to discard": “I decided to toss out the idea.”

The article also recommends checking out the Daily Writing Tips website for a list of even more options, including:

Apology: A statement of contrition for an action, or a defense of one
Aught: All, or nothing
Bill: A payment, or an invoice for payment
Bolt: To secure, or to flee
Bound: Heading to a destination, or restrained from movement
Buckle: To connect, or to break or collapse
Consult: To offer advice, or to obtain it
Custom: A common practice, or a special treatment
Dike: A wall to prevent flooding, or a ditch
Discursive: Moving in an orderly fashion among topics, or proceeding aimlessly in a discussion
Dollop: A large amount (British English), or a small amount
Enjoin: To impose, or to prohibit
Fine: Excellent, or acceptable or good enough
Finished: Completed, or ended or destroyed
First degree: Most severe in the case of a murder charge, or least severe in reference to a burn
Fix: To repair, or to castrate
Garnish: To furnish, as with food preparation, or to take away, as with wages
Give out: To provide, or to stop because of a lack of supply
Grade: A degree of slope, or a horizontal line or position
Handicap: An advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal achievement
Lease: To offer property for rent, or to hold such property
Let: Allowed, or hindered
Liege: A feudal lord, or a vassal
Literally: Actually, or virtually
Mean: Average or stingy, or excellent
Model: An exemplar, or a copy
Overlook: To supervise, or to neglect
Presently: Now, or soon
Put out: Extinguish, or generate
Puzzle: A problem, or to solve one
Quantum: Significantly large, or a minuscule part
Quiddity: Essence, or a trifling point of contention
Quite: Rather (as a qualifying modifier), or completely
Ravel: To entangle, or to disentangle
Refrain: To desist from doing something, or to repeat
Rent: To purchase use of something, or to sell use
Rock: An immobile mass of stone or figuratively similar phenomenon, or a shaking or unsettling movement or action
Sanguine: Confidently cheerful, or bloodthirsty
Scan: To peruse, or to glance
Shop: To patronize a business in order to purchase something, or to sell something
Skin: To cover, or to remove
Skinned: Covered with skin, or with the skin removed
Splice: To join, or to separate
Stakeholder: One who has a stake in an enterprise, or a bystander who holds the stake for those placing a bet
Strike: To hit, or to miss in an attempt to hit
Table: To propose (in British English), or to set aside
Temper: To soften, or to strengthen
Transparent: Invisible, or obvious
Trip: A journey, or a stumble
Unbending: Rigid, or relaxing
Variety: A particular type, or many types
Wear: To endure, or to deteriorate
Wind up: To end, or to start up

These are fun words for titles, of course.  But they’re also just fun ideas to get you thinking about two sides of something and what kind of plot or characters might arise from contemplating such things.

Play around with contronyms.

Or don’t.  Whatever you like, do that.

Just write.



************************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #28:

Companion Plays

Or try 2022’s challenge #28

Atmosphere

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day 

 

***********************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #28

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #28
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Wednesday, November 29th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




**************************************


And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon on Wednesday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 2 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**************************************

And that something can be:



Lights up.

It is transparent how transparent the ghost is in the light of day.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Writing Challenge #27 - The Ex Files

Hi folks

We are 26 days in!

Including this daily prompt, there are only four left to share with you before our work is completed for the month.

Well done, everybody!  

We can all see the end of November dead ahead on Thursday,

with the last work to be turned in by noon Central time on Friday, December 1st.

And I don’t want to jinx things, but I think I may finally be on the verge of catching up with everyone’s daily output here at the challenge at last.

Best not to dwell on it too long or it shall escape me.

For a frame of reference on the end of the holiday weekend:

I’m sending this out the morning of Sunday, November 26th.

By noon Central Time today, you’re turning in the writing you did (potentially yesterday or earlier, perhaps this morning) for Challenge 25.
https://thresholdwritingchallenge.blogspot.com/2023/11/writing-challenge-25-mood-music.html

Then you get to work today on writing something for Challenge 26, to turn in by tomorrow, Monday, November 27th, noon Central time.
https://thresholdwritingchallenge.blogspot.com/2023/11/writing-challenge-26-impossible-set.html

And the writing prompt you’ll be reading below is what you'll be working on Monday, to turn in on Tuesday morning before noon Central Time.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…

 

******************************************

Challenge #27 - The Ex Files

Due: Tuesday, November 28th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)


One final offering this year from our co-founder and technical director Nick Mrozek:

“You're on a first date
and their most recent ex walks into the bar.
You end the date leaving with that ex.”


Obviously this is the scenario for at least a long one-act, perhaps a whole full-length play.

And you could approach from any number of angles.

Don’t try to do the whole thing in a day.

Pick an angle, pick a piece of the puzzle - beginning, middle or end - and play around with that.

Nick is asking that we center the person between the first date, and their most recent ex, not either of those other two people.  So try putting yourself, or your protagonist, in the middle of that.

And don’t make it easy.

Play with how weird and conflicting and messy the whole thing might be, for all three involved.

(I didn’t ask Nick if this ever happened to him
or someone he knows,
or if he just made it up,
but anything’s possible.)

It’s an outline with a lot of potential.

Personally, I’m more inclined to go the “My Dinner With Andre” route than a Saturday Night Live sketch, but your mileage may vary.

RE: My Dinner With Andre (a film from 1981)
Trailer
Description

If you’re having trouble coming up with a way in, imagine how your favorite playwright might attack the scenario.

What would Shakespeare,
Larissa Fasthorse,
Harvey Feirstein,
Sarah Ruhl,
Anton Chekhov,
Annie Baker,
Oscar Wilde,
Suzan-Lori Parks,
Tony Kushner,
or August Wilson do?  
Or what might a local playwright you like and admire that the rest of us might never have heard of do with such a plot line?

Mix it up.  Have fun with the thing.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, you can always ignore this prompt and do whatever you want, just like every other day in November.

Just write.  Something.


************************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #27:

She Blinded Me With Science

Or try 2022’s challenge #27:

Code Words

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day


***********************************

How to submit your work for Challenge #27

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #27
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Tuesday, November 28th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



*************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Tuesday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 3 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


*************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

Your first date is going well.

Then that date’s most recent ex walks in.

Both you and your date start to realize you might be having a drink with the wrong half of that former couple.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Writing Challenge #26 - Impossible Set


Hi folks,

(2 of 2)

This prompt is the one you would be writing Sunday to be turned in on Monday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 26 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Remember, if you get lost in this flurry of six prompts crammed into three days, just look at the date on your calendar - that’s the number of the prompt you should be writing that day, and turning in the next day by 12 noon Central Time, or, of course, as early as you want, to clear the decks for the holiday.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…


*********************************

Challenge #26 - Impossible Set

Due: Monday, November 27th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



Another suggestion from our literary associate (and director of our recent new play reading series presentation of “Mediocre Heterosexual Sex”) Kate Cosgrove:

“Write a scene that can only be performed on the most complicated set imaginable (think turntables, wire work, moving walls, etc.)”

This is sort of a variation on a theme from the first year, with a prompt inspired by a theater company that called for writers to submit ideas that were deliberately written to be “Unstageable

I personally don’t believe anything is unstageable if you have the audience’s imagination playing along with you, but hey, go for it, prove me wrong.

Recently on the drive to work I saw a guy on a skateboard who was being pulled along by his two large dogs on leashes, sort of dogsled style.  This was near the neighborhood skateboard park with its various ramps and walls.

That’s two examples of things I find fascinating because I’d consider them unstageable but why not?

So come up with a story on an impossible set, and go crazy.

Or, as usual, just write whatever you like and turn it in by the deadline.  Up to you.



***********************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #26:

Random Phrase Generator part 4

Or try 2022’s challenge #26:

Visual Writing Prompt

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day


*************************************

How to submit your work for Challenge #26

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #26
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below




Again, this is: Due: Monday, November 27th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



**********************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Monday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 4 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.


**********************************

And that something can be:



Lights up.

A squash runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End




That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Writing Challenge #25 - Mood Music


Hi folks,

(1 of 2)

Again, sending you two prompts from the future again today, so you can work ahead for the holiday weekend if you wish.

This prompt is the one you would be writing Saturday to be turned in on Sunday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 25 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…

********************************************


Challenge #25 - Mood Music

Due: Sunday, November 26th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




Find some music you can play in the background for yourself and just write.

Music from a film soundtrack will, of course, remind me of a film.  But if I listen to it long enough, it just kind of becomes a mood, and that mood can sometimes give me ideas, or set me loose to keep plugging away at an idea I’d already been working on.

At the end of one of my favorite movies from last year, Aftersun, (don’t worry, no spoilers, go watch it, it’s gorgeous), there’s this beautiful shot that rotates all the way around and takes you from the present into the past, and you watch a character walk off into darkness, and then this music plays, an actual orchestral soundtrack for the first time in a movie that had been for most of its run time just old pop and rock tunes from the late 20th century.  Even without the context, it’s haunting…

One Without” - Oliver Coates



On the other end of the mood scale, I can’t listen to the bouncy Belle & Sebastian tune “There’s Too Much Love” without thinking of the end of the charming little Brazilian coming of age comedy-drama “The Way He Looks” (now almost 10 years old, eek, 2014).

Two high school boys, one blind, one sighted, become friends and then fall in love.  It’s almost unbearably cute.  They dance to the tune in the midst of the film, as their friendship is blossoming.

Also in the middle of the film, the sighted boy, Gabriel, takes the blind boy, Leonardo, out for a ride on the back of his bicycle - Gabriel pedaling and Leonardo standing/sitting behind him, holding onto his shoulders.  At the end of the film, Gabriel has Leonardo do the pedaling while Gabriel is behind him, holding onto his shoulders.  Leonardo, blind but still in charge of steering, is a little freaked out, but Gabriel is encouraging him and smiling broadly, and the song plays again here and takes the audience into the credits at the end of the film.

You can see the two bicycle scenes at 2:21 and 2:40 in this video edit, set to the song.

The full-length feature grew out of a 7 minute short film with the same actrors

Film trailer



In the early 2000s, I took a playwriting class and one of the exercises both fascinated and eluded me.  The instructor told us to pick a song or piece of music and break it down structurally, sort of like diagramming a sentence, and then to take that structure and build a scene out of it instead.

I like music, but I’m sort of dumb about it.  I don’t have an ear that can separate out “This is that instrument, this is that instrument, etc.”  But I gave it a shot with Goo Goo Dolls’ song called “Black Balloon” (very 2009 of me)

If your brain or your ear works better for that kind of thing, choose a song or piece of music and play around with structure that way.



Two instrumental soundtracks I have frequently listened to as background music, depending on my mood, are:

For a somber, dramatic turn - The Hours, by Philip Glass
(huge fan of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Michael Cunningham, fascinated by the movie adaptation by David Hare)

The title track is all of it condensed into one eight minute burst of sound

But the whole thing is suitably evocative

There’s also a piano solo version


For a jauntier, bubblier mood - Amelie, by Yann Tiersen

Particularly fond of the waltz track

But the whole thing is very “French with accordion”


You may have noticed I’m trying to keep a lot of these holiday week ones light and playful, because we’ve all got a lot on our plates (no pun intended).  So I don’t want to add any more drama than you care to add to the proceedings

Go as light or as dark as you want, depending on what’s inspiring you.

Or, as always, just ignore me, write whatever you want, and turn it in by the deadline.



*********************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #25:

Unstageable

Or try 2022’s challenge #25

Fun With Homophones

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**********************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day


*********************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #25

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #25
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below





Again, this is: Due: Sunday, November 26th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)




************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Sunday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 5 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.

*****************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A cranberry runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Writing Challenge #24 - Snapshots 4


Hi folks,

(2 of 2)

If you ever get confused about which one of this bundle of prompts I’m sending your way ahead of time is the one you’re supposed to be working on, do this:

Look at the date on the calendar.
That’s the number of the challenge you should be working on that day to be turned in by noon the next day.
That’s if you’re doing them one day at a time.
If you’re cranking out a bunch of writing and turning it in ahead of time, just make sure you hit each one of them in order and get yourself all the way to the end of the holiday weekend.

This prompt is the one you would be writing Friday to be turned in on Saturday by noon Central Time, but just label your email for prompt 24 and you can turn it early and I’ll credit it ahead.

And of course, you can always use the mini-play at the bottom of the email and blog post as an escape hatch for the day’s writing.

Let’s get you that writing prompt…



**********************************


Challenge #24 - Snapshots 4

Due: Saturday, November 25th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



Yes, it’s another collection of sounds and smells from our co-founder, managing director and photographer David Schlosser:

The roar of laughter from a crowd
The silence of an audience
the scream of joy of a child
the scream of terror
The breaking of glass
Smell of fresh cut grass


If none of those leap out at you, revisit some of the previous snapshot posts for other possible bits of inspiration to mix and match in your writing:

Snapshots 1

Snapshots 2

Snapshots 3



As always, if this prompt doesn’t do it for you, you can always feel free to just write whatever you want and turn it in by the deadline instead.

Just write something today :)



**************************************

If you’re not interested in this prompt, you can try 2021’s challenge #24:

Alternate Timelines

Or try 2022’s challenge #24:

Band Name

Or, you know, just ignore the prompts altogether and write whatever you want - as long as you’re writing and turning it in by the deadline, that’s all that matters for the challenge :)


**************************************

Friendly Reminders - Answers To Common Questions:
(Follow the links to read me expounding on these items :)

Don’t Stress About Writing A Full Play

Don’t Stress About Format

Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

No.  Really.  I Mean It.  Don’t Stress About Sticking To The Writing Prompt

Don’t Stress About Finishing An Idea (You Can Add Later)

Don’t Stress About Thanksgiving

Don’t Stress About “Succeeding” or “Failing”

Don't Stress About What You're Turning In Each Day


**************************************


How to submit your work for Challenge #24

You have options.  They are:

Save your script as a PDF or Word Doc and send as an attachment to an email sent to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Copy and paste your script in the body of an email and send it to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com

OR

Post your script online (as a Google doc, or in a blog post, on your own personal website, etc.) - email a link to this script to ThresholdWritingChallenge@gmail.com
(If you’re going to Google doc route, just make sure to have the document public, or give permissions to our email address to open it)

When emailing us, make the subject line of your email - Challenge #24
(That just helps us sort through the email more quickly)
(Or, you know, just reply to this email if you want :)

OR

Post the link for the online document option above in the comments section on this very blog post for this very challenge on the writing challenge blog below



Again, this is: Due: Saturday, November 25th, 12pm noon Central Time
(1pm Eastern Time, 11am Mountain Time, 10am Western Time for the US Time Zones)



**************************************

And, just to reassure you, no, we are not going to be sticklers about you following these directions down to the minutest detail - the important thing is that you write, and then that you share it with us, so we can keep track of who’s writing every day.

Also, no, there is no penalty for finishing and submitting early - but it also isn’t a race, so give yourself all the time up til 12 noon Central Time on Saturday to write if you need it.  When you’re done, you’re done.

Again, remember, it doesn’t need to be great, it doesn’t even need to be responding to this prompt (the prompt is just there so you’re not staring at a blank screen to start with no idea what to write about :)

Doesn't even need to be complete - you could have the beginning or the middle or the end of an idea, maybe two out of three but not all, that's still fine. This is all about getting things started, you can write more later. You have 6 more days to build on whatever you come up with today, if you want. Just get anything on the page, even if won't make sense to anyone else, as long as it make sense to you.

It just needs to be something.

************************************


And that something can be:



Lights up.

A potato runs for its life across the stage.

Lights down.

The End





That’s always your escape hatch, every day.

That’s your base line.

Build on it.

Have fun.

Don’t stress.

Make an impulsive decision and run with it.

Breathe.

You’ve got the day.

Just write.

Matthew A. Everett
Literary Director
Threshold Theater
(he/him/his)

Now Playing:
The video trailer for Threshold Theater's first virtual play reading in the New Play Reading series (back in May/June 2021), our reading of “Spellbound” by Matthew A. Everett - Thanks to his mischievous friend Jeffrey, who’s begun dabbling in witchcraft, Micah has accidentally dosed his best friend Auggie with a love potion. Which might be fine, if Auggie wasn’t straight, and married, or if Auggie’s wife Sarah wasn’t pregnant, or a practicing witch. With the help of Duncan, who runs the local metaphysical supply store, the race is on to whip up the antidote before anyone does something they’ll regret.  Now on our YouTube channel

Coming Soon:
The video recording of Threshold Theater's seventh live play reading in the New Play Reading series. Like all good LGBTQ+ theater companies, we begin our new season of programming with "Mediocre Heterosexual Sex" - which is a play by Madison Wetzell.  Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first hetero experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship. A vexed exploration of gender, sex, power, and kink.

Coming Spring 2024:
“4Play with Threshold Theater”
Dates and venue still TBA
Featuring:
Amsterdam, by Collette Cullen
Bluetooth, by Liz Dooley
Hurry Up and Wail, by Anna Ralls
Just for Context, by Bethany Dickens Assaf
The Weird Ellen Prom Queen Trendsetters, by Elizabeth Shannon

Coming for Pride Month 2024
Monday, June 3, 2024
Monster Girls at Sunshine Donuts, by Dani Herd
A vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster walk into a doughnut shop... Meet Louise, Tally, and Elsie: the crew behind Sunshine Doughnuts! The ghouls have fallen into a pretty pleasant spooky routine for themselves; pouring coffee, baking doughnuts, arguing over Scooby-Doo cartoons, having crushes on their regulars. Along comes an unexpected late night visitor to throw everything into question. Sometimes it really sucks how much your past can come back to bite you!

 


"Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say."
- James Baldwin

"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way."
- E.L. Doctorow

Writing Challege #30 - I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, But…

Hi folks, We have arrived at the final challenge for November 2023. For those of you who wrote every single day this month, well done! For t...