Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

Simple names are always the best.  The shorter they are the better—­usually nicknames, if true to life and the character, have a “homey” sort of sound that is worth securing.  Bill, and Jack, and Madge, and Flo, or anyone of a hundred others, sound less formidable than William, and James, and Margaret, and Florence.  Names that are long and “romantic” are usually amusing; merely listen to Algernon, Hortense, and Reginald Montmorency, and you have to smile—­and not always with pleasure.

But for a name to be simple or short or unromantic does not solve the problem for all cases.  A long “romantic” name might be the very best one you could choose for a certain character. [1] The name you should select depends on what effect you wish to secure.  No one can tell you just what name to choose for a character you alone have in mind.

[1] See The Villain Still Pursued Her in the Appendix.

But do not make the mistake of pondering too long over the naming of your characters.  It is not the name that counts, it is the character himself, and behind it all the action that has brought the character into being—­your gripping plot.

And now, let us sum up this brief discussion of characters and characterization before we pass on to a consideration of dialogue.  Because of time-restriction, a playlet must depend for interest upon plot rather than upon character.  The average number of persons in a playlet is four.  Interesting characters are to be found everywhere, and the playlet writer can delineate those he rubs elbows with better than those he does not know well and therefore cannot fully understand.  The same unity demanded of a plot is required of a character—­characters must be consistent.  Characterization is achieved by the dramatic method of letting actions speak for themselves, is done in broad strokes growing out of the plot itself, and is conveyed in close partnership with the actor by working on the minds of the audience who take a meagre first impression and instantly build it up into a full portrait.



We have now come to one of the least important elements of the playlet—­yet a decorative element which wit and cleverness can make exceedingly valuable.

If it is true that scenery is the habitation in which the playlet moves, that its problem is the heart beating with life, that the dramatic is the soul which shines with meaning through the whole, that plot is the playlet’s skeleton which is covered by the flesh of the characters—­then the dialogue is, indeed, merely a playlet’s clothes.  Clothes do not make a man, but the world gives him a readier welcome who wears garments that fit well and are becoming.  This is the whole secret of dialogue—­speeches that fit well and are becoming.

1.  What is Dialogue?

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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