Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Just Write It

It's always rather terrifying to put your work out there. Not everyone is going to love or even like everything you do. (To read a humorous story on how I first discovered this as a child, please visit: Adam Szymkowicz: I Interview Playwrights Part 783: Jennifer Kirkeby)

On the other hand, if you don't share your creations, there is 100% certainty that you'll never know the impact you may have. Don't we all want to share our stories in some way?

I've written many plays, and I recognize how fortunate I've been to have seen them produced. These experiences of collaboration have taught me so much. What works, what doesn't, what could have, and what should have. I've learned to trust my gut in ways I didn't used to, and that's empowering.

Sometimes the audiences are very vocal. In my case, it's mostly families and children. And believe me, children will let you know what they think! You can see it before you hear it. The restless movement in their seats, or the stillness and huge eyes. Then the voices. I've heard everything from "Is this EVER going to be over?" literally shouted from a poor little guy who couldn't handle anymore dancing fairies, to "This is the BEST show I've ever seen! How did you make it?" from a little girl was enchanted with the very same musical.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Stages Theatre Company
Photo by Bruce Challgren Photo.Pixels.com

The Mitten by Jan Brett
Stages Theatre Company
Photo by Bruce Challgren Photo.Pixels.com
I recently sent in a page of a middle grade novel that I'm working on called The Phoenix Theater to Literary Agent, Alex Slater of Trident Media Group through Kathy Temean's wonderful blog, Writing and Illustrating. It's called Free Fall Friday, and people submit the first page of what they're working on and if chosen, are critiqued by an agent. Not only was Alex very complimentary which was wonderful, but reading his thoughts on other's work was just as helpful.

So, just write it. There are eyes and ears just waiting to read and listen to what you are working on! Here's the blog :


           Jennifer Kirkeby / THE PHOENIX THEATER / Middle Grade

Tears of happiness welled in Annabelle’s eyes as she beamed at the standing audience, still clapping enthusiastically during the fourth curtain call. She squeezed her parent’s hands as they took another bow. The audience roared. She squealed, and her parents laughed.
Annabelle had never felt so proud in her ten years of life. Not only had she just played her first leading role as the streetwise Ginny in the 1920’s production alongside her parents, but her father had also written and directed it. And if tonight’s audience reaction was any indication, Always was destined to be a huge hit.

She searched the fourth row and found her nanny, Marion, grinning back at her. She was brushing away the large tears that rolled down her dark rosy cheeks. They winked at each other as they had promised they would.

The photographers began their flashing frenzy, shooting blinding white light with every click. Each one hoped to capture the photo chosen for tomorrow’s paper. Her father thanked the audience and invited them all to the opening night party.

Annabelle would wonder about the following moment for years to come. How it began, why it happened, and if there was anything she or anyone else could have done to prevent it.
She smelled the smoke before she saw it. At first, Annabelle assumed it was the obnoxious stage manager, Thomas, who was forever puffing on one of his stinky cigars. But when she looked offstage left, ready to give him a death glare, she knew instantly that no cigar could create the black billowing smoke that was rolling in from under the door.

Here’s what Alex had to say: 
THE PHOENIX THEATER by Jennifer Kirkeby
This is an excellent opening page. The writing is clear and concise, the action is captivating and inviting, and the tension demands the reader read on. I liked the way the play’s name is revealed in a stylistic and natural way. I like the expressive language: “flashing frenzy,” “blinding white light,” “black billowing smoke.” Most of all, I like the way the author sets-up the tragedy that unfolds. It’s a useful device that is employed well here: introduce the moment from the future, as a point in history, thereby captivating the reader with curiosity: what event could stand so tall in a character’s memory? Then, introduce the moment in all its horribleness. Therefore, the reader sees the moment as the character sees it: epic, irrevocable, and in the past. This is a great example of how to tease the reader in the opening pages, which is an effective technique.
Here is more info about Alex:
He is looking to build his list. When asked how he became an agent at Trident, concentrating in the expanding children’s, middle grade and young adult businesses, Alex simply replies, “It was only natural.” While karma is not an established business concept, it is clear that Alex’s career arc led him in this happy direction.
Start with Alex’s love of fiction, and in particular the stories that captivate the minds and imaginations of young people, from those so young that books are read to them, to young adults who get captivated by creative fiction. “I love to let myself go, and become the reader, whether the story is directed at a ten-year-old or a teenager,” says Alex.
Next is Alex’s experience at Trident, where he has been since 2010. He became a very successful agent representing the company’s children, middle grade and young adult authors in many licensing arrangements in the global marketplace for translation and in the English language in the U.K., having placed books with publishers in dozens of countries. Alex was Trident’s representative at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, as well as the broader-based London and Frankfurt book fairs. His experience in representing fiction in these areas showed him what elements in stories work well, and how to maximize the value of what an author has created.
He is now building his list domestically at Trident, while keeping his focus on these areas.
Alex’s plan is to, “Look for stories that will rise above the rest with characters that will be remembered well past childhood, with the potential to cross over to other media and formats,” such as programming, games, motion pictures and merchandise. “Trident is the leader on taking advantage of the latest opportunities presented by changing technology,” says Alex, and, “I will be there to help make the latest innovations happen for my authors.”
“I believe that the most successful writers have a bit of the dreamer in them.” And Alex passionately believes that he can help turn their dreams into reality.

Twelve Dancing Princesses
Stages Theatre Company
Photo by Bruce Challgren Photo.Pixels.com

I'd love to hear from you. What have you done recently that took you out of your comfort zone, and are you glad that you did?

Also, please visit my new website: http://www.jenniferkirkeby.com/


Sarah Ahiers said...

I love all these photos from your shows!

Jennifer Kirkeby said...

Thanks, Sarah! Many more to come!


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