Saturday, July 20, 2024

How Do I Begin Writing a Play?

This text goes to kick issues off with a couple of assumptions about you, expensive reader. It’s going to imagine that you just’ve obtained a killer thought for a play in your head. Incredible! It’s additionally going to imagine that the prospect of writing a full-length stage play is considerably daunting. Now: you’re not fallacious. However fortunate for you, StageMilk is right here to assist. Let’s reply the query of “How do I begin writing a play?”

To start out writing a play, you want a strong thought in thoughts, anchored by characters with clear and achievable objectives. In contrast to movie, formatting is yours to find out—though it ought to be as easy and stylish as attainable. As with all writing job, guarantee you may have sufficient time and vitality to embark on the undertaking, in addition to a purpose in thoughts for the completed product.

That is the second article in our collection on beginning writing initiatives, which rightfully acknowledge how rattling terrible it’s to start the method. You should definitely take a look at “How Do I Begin Writing a Brief Movie?” for extra recommendations on bettering your writing expertise and getting initiatives occurring the appropriate foot.

What You’ll Must Write a Play

Earlier than you begin typing away, let’s speak in regards to the gear and set-up required for writing a play. One thing we’re going to maintain addressing on this article is the truth that playwriting doesn’t have one hundredth the principles of screenwriting. That’s to not say you shouldn’t method with consideration, and a system in thoughts.


Write on a pc: laptop computer or desktop. Sure, you’re not sure to screenwriting software program like Closing Draft, and you can technically do your first go of the script with crayons and authorized pads. However even utilizing Google Docs will make sure that your modifying course of for subsequent drafts is way much less of a headache.

In the event you’re the type of author who likes taking notes and planning with post-its, that’s completely tremendous! However digitise as a lot of this as attainable, in an effort to take your work travelling if wanted and aren’t sure by a cork-board in your house workplace.


The best writing house is dependent upon your and your character; whether or not it’s public or personal, zen-like or pumping with black metallic, develop an area that feels proper and cozy for you.

One piece of recommendation we’ll repeat from our screenwriting article is that this: make sure that your chosen house is used solely for writing. Don’t sit in your mattress, or go to a favorite café you reserve for lengthy, indulgent breakfasts. Choose an area you may arrive at to write down and go away whenever you’re performed—a chosen artistic zone.


One other vital issue for any writing undertaking: put aside devoted time to write down. Mark it in a diary or on a calendar and render that point sacred. In the event you don’t take it severely, no person else will.

As performs unfold on the web page with extra freedom than a formatted movie script, you might prefer to set your self a barely extra bold page-a-day goal. This may really encourage the circulation of concepts in a scene and get your characters actually speaking and interacting. You’ll be able to all the time minimize the superfluous stuff later.


Writing any undertaking in any respect is simpler with a set purpose in thoughts: earlier than you begin writing a play, take into consideration the place you would possibly take it and what objective it’d serve.

There aren’t as many alternatives to submit performs for on-line competitions like there are quick movies. Nevertheless, you most likely have an opportunity of sending the play to an indie theatre with a thoughts to getting it produced—on the very least learn in entrance of an viewers. In case you are an actor writing a car for your self, a dwell studying of an authentic work is an effective way to community and self-promote.

Methods to Begin Writing a Play

Let’s assume you may have an thought robust sufficient that it’s set you on this path. A number of would-be writers pause proceedings at this juncture to plot out their story. Whereas this may be useful in fixing plot issues, post-its on a wall don’t equate precise writing: that may solely be measured by phrases on the web page.

Your purpose ought to be to get to the tip of a primary draft, irrespective of how horrible it might sound within the second. Phrases written down are price a thousand instances greater than good concepts kinda floating round … in the event that they aren’t excellent, carry on writing and label it a “second draft downside.”

#1 Know The World of the Play

In the event you’re caught on the way to start your play, spend a while considering the place it’s set. Is there a single, outstanding location the place a lot of the motion takes place? How do you make that place really feel alive, and vital to the journeys of your characters? In fact, you’re allowed a number of areas in a play. However every one has to rely for one thing and really feel actual—and too many tends to make a play really feel prefer it was supposed as a film however the producer couldn’t increase the finances.

A typical mistake for inexperienced playwrights is to talk an excessive amount of about motion or occasions occurring off-stage. In the event you’re writing a play set at a home occasion and all of the fascinating stuff retains occurring again within the kitchen/laundry space … perhaps the play is best set again there. Set your play the place the drama can unfold within the second, proper there in entrance of the viewers.

#2 Characters

Right here’s how Western theatre has labored for the previous few thousand years: Character A walks onto stage (the protagonist) and says their piece. Character B (the antagonist) walks out and disagrees. This creates battle, which is the essence of all drama.

All good performs are pushed by characters with needs. So when you’re caught on the way to start your play, drop two characters onto the stage and provides them conflicting targets: objectives that conflict with each other. If a personality’s purpose is weak or unclear, it’ll present instantly, as they’ll lack the drive to maneuver your story alongside. Take into account adjusting the needs of your characters till they both battle, or push the motion in a extra thrilling, high-stakes route.

That is particularly vital for secondary characters. Most writers have an understanding of what plagues their heroes and villains. Nevertheless, each character must really feel full—and in pursuit of their very own particular person objectives.

#3 Line By Line

Plot is nice. Plot is vital. Engaged on plot can really feel extremely useful to the writing course of, as you’re feeling such as you’re fixing issues which may stump you down the road. Nevertheless, plot doesn’t essentially assist getting phrases on the web page.

Generally the sheer vastness, the ambition of a big story to inform, can paralyse an aspiring author earlier than they’ve even begun. So whenever you begin writing a play, take the motion line by line, chook by chook. What does character A say (or do) to realize their goal? What does character B say (or do) in response, to additional their very own purpose?

#4 Begin The place It Will get Good

Begin your play the place issues get fascinating. That’s just about all the recommendation, right here. It’s very simple to suppose that point spent with characters earlier than an inciting incident helps the viewers get to know them, to sympathise with them. The reality is: characters are finest found on the journey, not earlier than it.

Playwright and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin talks about his love of dropping an viewers proper into the center of a scene—forcing them to interact and ‘catch up’. (This all the time makes me consider that good opening scene of The Social Community, and the way rapidly you’re compelled to acclimatise to the tempo of the movie and its characters.)

How late are you able to deliver your viewers into the narrative in order that it nonetheless is smart?

#5 Stage Instructions

Whenever you begin writing a play, hold your stage instructions minimal. The impulse is commonly to make use of a block of italicised textual content to arrange the world and provides the reader an thought of what they’ll see on stage. Sadly, this tends to lavatory down author and reader alike with pointless particulars.

What’s the principle distinction between a screenplay and a stageplay? In the event you write a screenplay nicely sufficient to get it observed and optioned and filmed … it turns into out of date. The movie turns into the definitive doc, like a home from a blueprint. This isn’t true with a play, which shall be produced (hopefully) tons of of instances over tons of of years, in new and thrilling methods.

So plan for longevity: don’t get slowed by particulars of how the stage will look, whenever you need administrators for hundreds of years to understand your phrases in new and thrilling methods. Discover these characters, discover their needs, and let the drama unfold.

Simply Maintain Writing

Once I was at drama faculty, my writing instructor made us observe a punishing technique for growing drafts. We weren’t allowed to learn the script again till it was performed. Not a lot as a look till the entire story was advised. This produced some fascinating issues in a screenplay I used to be growing, together with a roommate who left for the kitchen space and by no means got here again…

But it surely’s an amazing method, and one to make use of when you’re feeling courageous. The roommate disappeared from the face of the script as a result of I didn’t want him. If he was so vital, he’d have come again and furthered the story alongside!

Any any sense: simply hold writing. Resist the temptation to return and edit what you’ve already written upon getting a couple of pages stashed away. You’ll cease including new materials or, and spend your designated writing time tinkering with what you may have.

Performed! Now to Drafting…

Your first draft of something ought to be adopted by an enormous celebration and per week’s break from the undertaking. After a pause in proceedings, you may learn what you’ve written and the drafting course of can start.

Drafting shouldn’t be the main target of this text, because it’s a subject unto itself. However understand that future drafts will strengthen what you’re writing whenever you start your play. Not all the things must be neat, polished, refined, researched or essentially coherent whenever you’re specializing in getting phrases out and onto the web page.

So long as you’re taking the time to deal with issues afterward with the effort and time that your work deserves, the primary draft of your play is allowed to be a little bit bit skinny right here and there. Realistically, it’s one thing that you just and solely you’ll ever see.


Writing something is a critical problem, and one thing each artist and actor ought to aspire to do. However whereas it does require excessive effort on the a part of the would-be scribe, it’s not some magical reward that’s bestowed on some and never others.

Writing is a talent. And all expertise may be discovered with time and endurance and a very good work ethic. And whereas it’s not essentially probably the most enjoyable factor ever whenever you’re within the thick of character/plot/emotional woes … it’s extraordinarily satisfying to see a very good story come collectively. And that’s earlier than you even begin to share it with others.

Simply hold writing.

Good luck!

Further Assets

Lastly, check out some extra writing assets right here on StageMilk:

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