Learn About Grand Prize Winner: Jacob M. Appel - Writer's Digest

Learn About Grand Prize Winner: Jacob M. Appel

Grand-prize winner Jacob M. Appel’s comedic stage play puts a wife and a mistress at odds over one man, but for very different reasons. by Jessie Gridley
Author:
Publish date:

SHORT FICTION TO STAGE PLAYS

Writing stage plays hasn’t always been Appel’s genre of choice. He has published short fiction in more than 70 journals and has won many contests and awards, including the Boston Review short story competition and the North American Review Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize. He stumbled into writing stage plays in true gauntlet fashion. Six years ago, a playwright friend challenged him to switch genres with her. Appel took up the offer.

Since then, he’s had plays performed at numerous theaters, including the Manhattan Repertory Theatre and the Detroit Repertory Theatre. He found not only a new passion, but also a whole community of playwrights. “When writing fiction, you’re alone. Plays are very communal,” Appel says. “There’s nothing more magical than seeing your play come to life.”

One of the biggest hurdles in going from short fiction to stage plays was the fear of writing convincing dialogue. After taking a weekly workshop, Appel picked up some helpful advice from the instructor, who simply told him to listen to his work read out loud. Suddenly, friends and family members transformed into actors as they read—and sometimes performed—his work.

“I think stage plays are much harder to write than fiction,” Appel says. “All you have is dialogue—you can’t spare a word. One bad line can ruin a play. At the same time, one great line can make a play.”

Click here to read Appel's winning entry, “The Mistress of Wholesome.”

plot_twist_story_prompts_fight_or_flight_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.

Garfield

Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.

Pennington_10:21

The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.

new_agent_alert_amy_collins_talcott_notch_literary_services

New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

5_tips_for_writing_scary_stories_simone_st_james_horror_novels_hauntings

5 Tips for Writing Scary Stories and Horror Novels

Bestselling and award-winning author Simone St. James shares five tips for writing scary stories and horror novels that readers will love to fear.

on_vs_upon_vs_up_on_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

On vs. Upon vs. Up On (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use on vs. upon vs. up on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.