Ever wondered how the likes of Arthur Miller, Shakespeare, Sophocles become great writers? If you think they were just talented play writers, you are wrong. Playwriting is not about linking up words to create sensible sentences. It is about coming up with an idea and knowing how to put it into words that are heading somewhere. The point is, it requires hard work. If you are just writing and hoping that ideas will keep cropping up whenever you jump to the next sentence, you will be doing nothing less or more than wasting your time.
This post will share with you some great ideas on how to write a play
Plan your play
Turning an idea into a story without a great plan is almost impossible. So, pause, take your time and figure out where your idea will fit. There are several types of plays. So, know what category the play you want to write falls in. Follow these steps.
- Create characters that you want in your play and give each of them roles
- Decide who is on the protagonist side as well as the antagonist’s side.
- Figure out what will make them conflict, and how they will resolve it.
Create your story
In the story, your characters need to appear real. They should be able to react believably to issues that affect them in one way or another. Also, let their inner feeling show up on the outside, especially when they are forced to react. For example, if your character has been trying to hide something for so long and the person he has been trying to protect repeats the same mistake, he will be forced to react. Because it is not a movie, ensure that the tension between your characters is real. With that taken care of, figure out a place where the story will take place.
Make it clear who the audience should side with
When creating your story, try not to idealize the characters. Make it clear to your audience who the protagonist and the antagonist in your play are. Remember, your audience will want to choose who to side with throughout your story, but this doesn’t mean you make him or her a hero. As mentioned earlier, your characters should be real, meaning that they can make mistakes. So, making your protagonist perfect will make everything much obvious, and that is the last thing you need. Even your audience know that your characters don’t exist anywhere except in your play. But when your story seems real, they forget easily, and that is why you will find some of them crying especially when something bad happens to a good person in the play.
Create a draft
You already know how the plan should go, but it is easy to forget. So, write some draft that will help guide you when developing the plot. The draft is simply a summary of your entire story. At this point, you should not focus so much on the formatting. Just let the words flow as you go on. Remember, you are trying to retain a good percentage of the ideas you had in the first place. If you want to make it more interesting, ensure that the story takes place within a short period. Also, ensure that it ends well. Try as much as possible to eliminate scenes where your characters are alone because this will make it less fun on stage. After completing your draft, go through it, again and again, to ensure that nothing is missing. If you missed something, do it again. Keep in mind, the more drafts you write, the better your play will get.
Format your play
At this stage, you already know how your story is going to begin and how it will end. Now it is time you break it into acts and scenes. Ensure it has at least three acts and several scenes involving different characters. Also, ensure that the protagonists and antagonists appear in most scenes because the story should revolve around them. Keep in mind, if you decide to introduce a new character, your scene will change. For example, the first scene features two siblings quarreling, its ending should be if another person comes into the scene or when the siblings part ways. When breaking your plot into scenes, ensure that each scene you introduce is preceded with a stage direction. Lastly, ensure that each dialogue is marked with the name of the characters involved.
- Allow some few seconds between the scenes so that each character could prepare before entering the stage.
- Don’t spend more time trying to come up with beautiful names. You can always go back and work on that later.
- Avoid bad jokes such as racist jokes because you are never sure who is in your audience.
The fact is, playwriting is a complicated process and might take time, especially if you don’t plan well. Even with a great idea, you might lose the taste of it. Keep in mind; your story isn’t going anywhere, and it will become much better depending on the time you have to spend working on it. In some cases, you might have a great idea but can’t figure out how to put it in your play. Don’t sweat it. See a good short example from this MI40X Reviews. Take as much time as you can. If it doesn’t work, use a helping hand from a friend. Lastly, don’t skip any step mentioned above.