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.”

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

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

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.

Brandt_1:14

Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.

plot_twist_story_prompts_moment_of_doubt_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.

dr_caitlin_oconnell_finding_connection_and_community_in_animal_rituals_author_spotlights

Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!

new_agent_alert_zeynep_sen_of_wordlink_literary_agency

New Agent Alert: Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.