Toronto Fringe 24-Hour Playwriting Contest

This is the live blog madness of my Toronto Fringe 24-Hour Playwriting Contest. Let the LOLs and hair pulling out commence!


5:55pm (Hour 24) – Did it! All submitted, and proofed as best I could, thought I’m sure there’s a spelling mistake or two in there. I will be uploading the finished product in a week or two, after the results of the competition are announced. But just glad this is all over. Now to sleep for a while…


5:14pm (Hour 24) – So very, very tired. Know that I still have to make adjustments and do a final proof-read before I can send it on. COME ON BRAIN.


4:38pm (Hour 23) – FACT. Writing equals bad diet. Just had a bag of Munchies – think some ended up in my brain. Getting down to some editing now after feedback from a few friends (thanks Niamh and Gill!), hopefully I can make the whole thing nice and coherent in the next hour and twenty-two minutes.

Scratch that, hour and twenty-one.


2:35pm (Hour 21) – Been in Starbucks for seven and a half hours. Time to get some lunch / acknowledge the fact that the staff are staring at me and my three small Pike Place Roasts.


1:56pm (Hour 20) – First draft done!


1:15pm (Hour 20) – Okay. Home stretch. Should be finishing off first draft by 2pm, ahead of schedule. Yay for coffee!


12:44pm (Hour 19) – Grr. This “forgotten child” is causing me no end of logistical problems.


11:18am (Hour 18) – One of the really under-appreciated skills of writing is misdirection. Trying to introduce information that you know is vital, but having so many plates spinning that the audience don’t realise the importance until the end.

It’s strange being on the writer’s side of it. When you watch a piece of work you think “oh that piece seemed very unimportant at the time” and you’re enamoured with everything else that went on – when the “everything else” was just an artifice the writer was creating to hide this huge plot point he or she had throbbing right in front of them. Figuring out how someone unfamiliar with your idea will take it on is one of the hardest things to do – imagining what it would be like to not know something.


10:23am (Hour 17) – Would someone be a doll and execute that screaming baby?


10:07am (Hour 17) – They’re playing “Ghost Town” in Starbucks. It’s a philosophical quagmire.


10:05am (Hour 17) – Increasingly distracted by YouTube. And over-ingestion of Starbucks. On the upside, I have a place to live in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival! When I’m reading back through this live blog, this will be the post that represents my fall off the creative wagon. Damn you, Tim-Berners Lee!


8:39am (Hour 15) – Five pages in, and feeling okay. Need to get the first draft written by… three? That gives me a few hours of nipping and tucking and hopefully a chance to run it by a friend or two. Unless they all mysteriously go into hiding  after reading this.


7:22am (Hour 14) – Of course I wake up an hour ago and for the first time ever the Internet in my house isn’t working. Eventually found a nearby Starbucks to crash in. Am sitting across from a lovely lady who attends the Randolph Academy here in Toronto. Did she mistake my request for information about the Internet connection for flirting? On the one hand I am a dashing writer – on the other I haven’t showered yet. Only time will tell – keeping an eye out for lips aquiver or breasts ashiver.


12:08am (Hour 7) – Okay, bed. And not a word written in Final Draft. But confident about the twelve hours from 6am to 6pm tomorrow.


11:54pm (Hour 6) – Nectarine Delirium is DEFINITELY the name of my new band. Patent pending. Also, band pending.


11:51pm (Hour 6) – From one block to another. Punnet of strawberries and bag of nectarines I had causing havoc. Also – seven cups of free coffee. That said, think I have scene structure laid out nicely. Present-flashback-present-flashback etc. Having serious trouble figuring out sticking to the 45-minute structure.

That said, having a whale of a time naming the characters. Camomile Parapet and Elspeth Misericorde living in Porcelain Mere? Yes please, thank you very much. I love naming characters.  It’s always a great lesson in how much cadence and syllables mean in general conversation – look at how a great name and a crap name differ, the natural ebb and flow of sounds. Or maybe that’s the nectarine delirium talking.


11:18pm (Hour 6) – It’s not a block. It’s a wall to rest against while I catch my breath.



10:24pm (Hour 5) – Finally got everything into a word document. “That’s very late, Alan” you might say – well shut up you. I have two big pages of info written down, and more coming. Also enjoying the free coffee in Insomnia Cafe (who I WILL pimp in the hopes that they will extend this offer to me every day). Actually having trouble figuring out how to fit my whole plot in 45 minutes. Which is stupid stupid stupid. And I’m calling her Camomile – I don’t care. Camomile and Lou. And a kid called Share. Theatrical GOLD, I tells ya.

Phew. Gulp.


9:28pm (Hour 4) – In the words of my good friend Niamh: “Keep it simple”. So intricate coffin choreography theatrical directions are completely out of the question? Also considering the possibility of calling one of my leads Camomile. Another is called Share. That’s right, Share. Not Cher. SHARE. It makes sense in context – unlike this post. GAH NEED COFFEE.


8:57pm (Hour 3) – Totally have the entire thing laid out. Thank you brain! It may involve a charming village with a dark secret. SPOOKY.


6:32pm (Hour 1) – Off to the park. Desk cramping my style. Gonna eat strawberries until RAW TALENT washes over me. Gulp.


6:07pm (Hour 1) – Let the madness commence! The play must include the following…

1. Something in between the pages of a book 2. Lou OR Loo 3. A complex equation 4. A forgotten child

I may already have an idea. May.


Hey y’all,

So just about to head down to the Toronto Fringe 24-Hour Playwriting Contest launch – have 6pm tonight until 6pm tomorrow to write a script. No plans yet for what the hell it’s going to be but should be interesting!

Will be live blogging here all night and tomorrow to give you an idea of how my head is working, and of course tweeting at @parallelevision if you want to follow the madness.

Wish me luck!



About alfla

Playwright, screenwriter, sometime improv enthusiast and full-time television lover. You know, in THAT way.
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11 Responses to Toronto Fringe 24-Hour Playwriting Contest

  1. Karen Howley says:

    I request the story of how Ms Jalepeno and Mrs Ranch’s lives changed forever upon encountering Mr Olive. Now write!

  2. alfla says:

    Consider it written. And DELICIOUS.

  3. Lou Bru says:

    How you could you turn down the opportunity to write about your most favourite Lou of all?

  4. alfla says:

    I’ll do my best, Lou, but it’s not looking good. You know you’re my magnum opus, I’m much too inexperienced to tackle the story of your life. Plus current budget doesn’t extend to your part in the Laser Cannon Wars of 2361.

  5. gilldo says:

    its not louking good is what you really mean. im full of jokes i am

  6. Assumed Name says:

    Forgotten child. Maybe cheat and have your very last line of dialogue be: Em…Where’s Jemimah?

  7. alfla says:

    Or just a Home Alone-esque “KEVIN!”

  8. Karen Howley says:

    Are you putting the script up for us to ogle over?

  9. alfla says:

    Not straight away – maybe in a week or so? Not sure what the Fringe’s policy is on uploading things for the world to see while they’re submitted so keeping schtum. Also, might go back and fix a few things I didn’t get a chance to!

  10. Karen Howley says:

    Cool – and by the by – I’m loving this blog idea. Flicked through Grey’s Anatomy last night. I could hear Meredith as I read! Need to read through it all yet though. Good luck with this one!

  11. Sha Sha. says:

    Looking forward to reading your 24 hr non-brain-fast. Pop.

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