Tag Archives: playwriting

More Arizona Exploring

To get away from the record heat in Phoenix, we went south for a day. Tucson, at 2,589 ft,  is a higher altitude than Phoenix, which is 1,086. Plus, Tucson is protected from the sun by the mountains and thus has more cloud cover. But we didn’t stay there long. We went to the real mountains. To Bisbee, AZ, to be precise. 5,589 ft.

There are those darn lines again!

It was a lovely temperature for summer. I don’t know what temperature it was, but it felt perfect. There was even a drizzle part of the day.

See that B up there on top? Stands for Bisbee.  No kidding! The population is about the same as the altitude. About one person per foot of altitude.

Bisbee is a very charming looking town because in the downtown area there is very little new construction. It’s almost all “antique.”

The museum had a lovely garden.

And the shops were interesting to me. A honey shop. A custom hat shop. A dress shop where I bought a hat in my favorite color (coral called peony). And a shop with a window after my own heart.

Dolls, masks, old photos, and memento mori. What more could I want?

The only thing they had very little of: gluten free food. Yikes. OK, I won’t go into that rant again.

On the way back from Bisbee, we drove through Tombstone (yup, that Tombstone), where we’ve been before.

I had to take photos out of the car window . . . .

We also drove through St. David, a town founded by LDS pioneers. It’s still mainly Mormon, and it appears to be a farming community, but maybe the farming was in its past. I was glad to get home, though, to my 4+1 cats. Slupe is doing so well! She’s now been out with all the others cats, and I am hopeful that they can be one happy group (when Tiger watches her back so Kana doesn’t sneak up on her).



My new writing project is a play. I’ve been working on the play with my daughter. I find it fairly easy to write dialogue, but more difficult to conceptualize how it all works onstage. That is her expertise. As an actor, she has a good feel for the physical parts of the play. I expect it to move slowly because of being the work of two people.

Have you ever worked on a project, writing or otherwise, with someone else that you were used to doing by yourself?


Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, gluten free, gluten free travel, History, Inspiration, playwriting, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing

Turning My Book on End

I’ve heard some good exercises to improve plot or structure, but I read a book recently that gave me a new notion—a notion that threatens to turn my book upside down.

David Ball, in his “Technical Manual for Reading Plays,” called Backwards & Forwards argues that the way to read a play for meaning on stage is backwards, not just forwards.

He says that the play is “a series of dominoes: one event triggers the next, and so on.” He invites the reader to think of arranging dominoes on end, close enough together, so that if one is knocked over it knocks over the next and then the next.

If you read a good play forwards, you won’t notice this causality. That’s because if Event A triggers Event B, you know moving forward, that Event A could have triggered a whole array of other things.  But it didn’t—it triggered Event B.

If you start reading from the end—the last event (let’s call it Event Z), then the event which caused it (Event Y), then the event which caused it (Event X), you can see that you couldn’t have Event Z without Event Y occurring, and you couldn’t have Event X without Event Y.  So while reading forwards gives you a variety of options and thus adds mystery to the story, reading backwards is a series of “of courses” as you trace the play backwards.

While Ball makes a distinction between reading a play for performing on stage and reading a play as literature, I would suggest that his method for reading works for writing a story.  One caveat is that more unique and unusual variations on chronology make it more difficult to understand Ball’s point, but I think his argument is valid at heart of any story.

So why does it turn my book upside down? To analyze my structure backwards, I have to start with the end. But I don’t have an ending yet!  Since it’s not a novel, I can’t manufacture an ending. I haven’t decided if I’ve lived the last event or if it is still in my future. Until I do live it or decide I have already lived it and know what it is, I can’t work backwards on structure!

However, I can take the last event I’ve written and read backward from there, searching for cause and effect and revising where needed.

Have you ever read or analyzed your own or someone else’s story backwards?


Just a reminder that I have a story in the Midlife Collage contest this week.  To find my story go to Midlife Collage  OR Facebook page.  Remember: it’s “Still Photo” by Luanne Castle.  Please comment after my story and “like” it with the Facebook link if you have a Facebook account.  You can tell them which story you want to win in “closing arguments.”


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing