Playwriting Exercise – The Neverism

Came across this interesting examination of “The Neverism.” Writer Erin McKean delves into a new book by Mardy Grothe on a collection of sayings dealing with “never.” Dr Grothe has a whole slew of books on words and wit, just my cup of tea.

What is a neverism you ask? Well let me share. Neverisms are –

“Statements intended to advise against a particular thing or action.”

You would instantly know a neverism:

  • Never judge a book by its cover.
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • Never say never.

The list goes on and on. McKean describes in her article that the appeal of Neverisms is their black and white quality:

“Humans are always looking for simple rules – heuristics, if you want to get fancy – to help us lighten the complicated cognitive load of decision-making. Many neverisms offer a path to nirvana by giving us one thing to focus on, and one thing only.”

So. The playwriting exercise should seem elementary:

  • Choose a Neverism.
  • Place two characters in a confined space, somewhere they have to stay till the end of the scene.
  • Theatricalize the neverism. How would it play out between the two characters?

About the author

Lindsay Price