How to Write a Musical That Works – guidelines

part 1: The World and The Want
part 2: Conflict and Obstacles
part 3: Reckoning and Resolution

In addition to the TRU Voices Series, writers are invited to submit your work to a daylong musical feedback workshop. The second of the 3-part series will be on Sunday February 28th, in New York. The workshop will accept no more than 10 writing teams who will share works in progress and get feedback from a panel of expert evaluators. Audience members will also have a chance to offer their observations, participate in network sessions and enjoy refreshments.

The World and The Want

10:00 am to 11:00 am - Introductory remarks and discussion of the importance if welcoming the audience into the world of your show, and ways in which to set the tone (and rules) for what follows.

11:00 am to 1:00 pm - Five writing teams will each have 10 minutes to present the opening of their show, and/or a song that establishes the World of the show. After all presentations, panelists will provide feedback.

(On your own. Great time to make new friends in the industry!)

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm -

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm - Five additional writing teams will each describe their show and present the song or songs that introduce the main characters and their "I Want" songs. Panelists will comment and invite additional audience feedback.

5:00 to 5:30pm - summary and networking reception

**If accepted for presentation of 10-15 minutes including one song and scene, plus feedback, there will be a participation fee of $100 ($80 for TRU members), which includes 2 seats for the entire day workshop as well as your presentation slot. Space is limited. Any additional attendees from the musical team (including music director, additional collaborators and cast members) who wish to observe the entire workshop must reserve in advance and will be charged $20 per person.

** The TRU Selection Committee will determine what songs best fit the criteria of our workshop discussions. We will provide a room with a piano, refreshments, panelists, and an audience. If you don't have an accompanist we will help you find one.

**All writers are expected to be present for the entire day.

• How to Write a Musical That Works welcomes submissions from writers who have completed at least a full first draft of the book of their musical, plus a substantial amount of the score. Completed shows are preferred.
• Writers with complete first act drafts (book and score), or with first acts that have a clearly presented "I Want" song and "Turnaround Song," may submit to parts 1 or 2. Indicate on your application ("ABOUT THE MUSICAL" section) that the show is a work in progress.

• If you wish to submit for both the How to Write a Musical That Works and the TRU Voices Musicals Series, see the TRU Voices series.
• How to Write a Musical is best-suited to traditionally structured musicals that adhere to the traditional rules of musical theater writing. We are looking for shows that have an "I Want" song to intoduce your main character or characters, and/or an opening number thatt establishes the world of the show, like "Tradition," "Comedy Tonight" or "Fuge for Tinhorms." For part 2, we want songs that show the escalating wants of your characters, obstacles that force the action forward or songs that dramatize conflict.
• The 15-minute presentations are meant to be simple: an effective brief description/set up and sample song. Whether the piece is a solo, duet, or (less likely) group number, it may be presented by demo recording or live performance. We prefer that you arrange for a live performance by one or two singers (maximum) and a pianist.

You may submit your work for the February 28th workshop.

• Email us approximately 20 pages of your script that contains the conflict and/or obstacles that drive your story forward, or whichever pages contain the song or songs you would like to have considered for presentation. Email TRUPlaySubmissions@gmail.com
• Include a short synopsis of the entire show, or as much as has been written. (Yes, we do accept submissions of works-in-progress.) Make sure to focus on what happens leading up to the scene/song you are submitting, so that we have a context in which to judge it.
• Email a link to a Dropbox folder or other web sharing folder that contains your mp3s of the songs that you would like considered; if the files combined size is less than 10MB, you may attach the MP3s to your email. If we have trouble accessing them, we will contact you. Email TRUPlaySubmissions@gmail.com - you may also email large files through YouSendIt or other file sharing email services.
• We no longer return materials - so no SASE’s please. 

• TRU member writers may submit to How to Write a Musical and you will need to pay a $10 workshop submission fee.
• Non members may submit to How to Write a Musical for $20.
• If selected for the workshop there will be a participation fee of $100 ($80 for TRU members), minus your submission fee. There is also special pricing for writers returning to the workshop. Email TRUPlaySubmissions@gmail.com for details.

- Deadlines for How to Write a Musical That Works can be found on the web page for the current or upcoming workshop.

• Performance space with piano / Access to our database of actors, technicians, etc. / Refreshments / Professional feedback panel / An audience for your work


"I just want to say a word of thanks for your allowing me to be a presenter at this workshop.  I really appreciate your work at organizing and running this event.  I think I mentioned that I used to run state conferences for my former employer and I know how much work goes into an event like the workshop.  I appreciate your work and kindnesses to me.  I learned a lot  and really enjoyed the experience."  ~Louise Epperson, writer (July '16)