It turns out that writing a stage play is quite a different kettle of fish to writing a book. It's probably easier if I list the the differences that I've experienced so far:
1) There's a deadline. Yes, I know that once you get a publishing deal that deadlines start to appear, but for me this is a new thing. I know it's a year away, and that I should have the first draft in place well before then, but it's still there, popping it's head up over the horizon, shouting "Cooee", giving a little finger waggling wave and then dipping back down again. He's an odd little thing, and I'm sure there's a more menacing side to him that will become apparent as he gets nearer.
2) The pressure of high expectations. I'm actually writing this for people that I know. The whole of the cast will received their copy of the script and then be judging it against previous productions to see how good (and funny) it is. When I write a book, I try and make it the best I can, but it will be someone who doesn't know me who will deciding whether it has publishing potential.
To add to the pressure, several people have told me that they are more excited about this script than any previous Panto script. It seems that they think that I'm funnier than I really am.
4) Where's number 3?
5) Being funny on demand is not easy. When I'm with friends, feeling relaxed, and with no expectations for me to make them laugh, (I like to think that) I can be quite amusing. I can make jokes about incidents, or a comment that someone makes, and run with a theme. If something doesn't work, I'll get a small amount of humorous abuse, but it's forgotten quite quickly.
This, however, is a bit more clinical. I can't just write a load of jokes, and hope for the best. I have to make the characters funny, and everything needs to work.
3) Ahh, here it is.
7) Writing for an audience reaction. When I'm writing a novel, I find that I can build up the story line as I go along. With Panto, the characters have to illicit cheers or boos from the audience, and interact directly with them. It's odd writing something to get an instant reaction.