Writing a play can be an incredibly rewarding task, though challenging too. A good play will not only tell a story but will also evoke a vast range of emotions in the reader, and you can strive to make your audience, laugh, cry, hold their breath, feel outraged, shocked, delighted and even fearful.
When writing a play, you get a more significant creative license than in other forms of writing. Being dramatic, and even over the top can help to portray your message more clearly, your characters can be larger than life, your dialogue and direction are critical.
Of course, writing a play comes with different challenges and limitations – setting, for example, can only take place within the confines of the stage – though this shouldn’t limit your imagination. You need to understand how to convey your story through dialogue and directive action, which can be tricky.
Follow these tips to get you started:
First focus on your plot
Working out your plot is an excellent place to start. Without a good story, you don’t have anything to work with. Map out your plotline first so you can see how the story will unravel.
Then choose a subplot
Look to the greats such as Shakespeare to understand the importance and brilliance of a good subplot. Your play should have a subplot running alongside the main story involving minor but exciting characters, and while this shouldn’t be the main focus, it should compliment or contrast with the main plot to bring added depth.
Decide on your structure
Most plays take place over three acts, though you can choose to deviate from this is you wish. Acts are then divided into scenes. You should write your scenes specifically for the stage setting, with the limited space that you have to work with. While it’s not impossible to have multiple locations, you do need to bear in mind how this will work, and if the situation keeps changing from scene to scene, this could end up being distracting. If a director can’t figure out how to make your play work, it will be less likely ever to make it to the stage. Simplicity can be key. If you can visualize how it will work, this can help ensure that you are on the right track.
Write with your audience in mind
When you get into the swing of things, it can be easy to forget that you’ll have a room full of people watching the action unfold. You need to consider how your audience will be able to take in the action and dialogue. Understanding who your audience might be, (i.e., the type of people you are hoping your play will appeal to) can also help with marketing and convincing a theatre to take it on.
Understand the layout
If you want your play to be taken seriously, you need to learn about formatting and layout to ensure your script looks professional. Take some time to learn how to do this properly to boost your chances of success.
Focus on your characters
As with any other story, the creation of compelling, relatable, exciting characters is imperative to the success of your play and how well it will be received. Avoid stereotypes, focus on sharp dialogue, and make sure that the actions and words of your characters drive the plot forward.
So there you have it, the essential ingredients of writing a play revealed. Now all you have to do is get writing, and you could see your work on stage!