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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Press SEND: a brief e-submission guide


Many theaters are accepting online submissions – and this is a good thing.  Here are some tips to make your online e-submission a success.

It’s about ease of communication. 

Send your play as a single document, preferably a PDF, but many theaters also accept plays as a Microsoft Word Document.  While many improvements have been made to Word – don’t count on the theater that is reading your e-play having the latest versions of the software or a new computer system.  Try to keep your document title one word without breaks:
MyBestNewPlay.docx
 Or
 My_Best_New_Play.doc
Even if your MacBook Pro will open a document without this older method of naming documents without breaks, the theater intern opening it on the other end might not have the same shiny equipment.  This is part of the reason why submitting your work as a PDF is preferable.

If you are writing in Word then it is easy to turn your document into a PDF file – if you know where to look.  If you go to the “Print” menu, you will see am option in the bottom of the printer control box with an option to convert the document to a PDF.  Select “Save as a PDF” in the pull down menu and voila – you have a PDF document ready to hurtle into cyber-space. Watch this tutorialon YouTube if you still need help converting that .doc to a PDF.

But hang-on a minute. Before you go PDFing that thing, make sure all of the information you intend to send as a complete script is there.  I’m talking about the title page, the character information and requirements page, followed by the play text.

Send a single document that is your play. It’s best to start the page numbers after the title page and cast requirements, but if formatting the page numbers is not something you have mastered yet, just let the numbers start on the title page. Everything will be fine – just be sure to include those page numbers – whether they are perfect or not.

Remember – with e-submissions – your document is unlikely to be printed on the other end. Your play is going to be sent to the readers’ laptops, iPads, Droids, Kindles – and other devices to be scrolled thru and read. Refrain from paper-saving strategies like orienting the play horizontally on the page and in two columns. This will only bung-up the reader. Yes, I once had a play submitted to me this way and it was a pain-in-the-ass to read. Having to pan back and forth to read the text interrupted the flow of the reading.

Remember – simple always wins – ease of use wins – because the easier it is to read your play text the better experience the reader will have with it.

Just as your stage directions are tools for communicating the world of your play – your layout and presentation on the page are communication tools too.  With e-submissions you need to make sure you are sending a document that can be read on many devices quickly and easily. Your play is one out of 300 or 1,000 in the reader pool – and your reader is probably reading at least 10 plays this week. 

Keep it clean, easy, and interesting to read by making sure that some technical oversight isn’t the thing keeping your play from making the cut.

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