Playwriting is one of those professions that has become increasingly difficult to learn. This is especially true if you want to be a great playwright. Playwrights who are “born” with the gift of gab cannot always be counted on to hone their skills in other areas. Moreover, even those gifted writers who master other disciplines often find Playwriting the most challenging of all.
What is Playwriting?
Playwriting is the art of telling a story through dialogue. A good playwright must know his or her characters like no other part of the writing process. The characters should be as natural to the playwright as they are to the audience.
The playwright must know their characters so well, and it becomes easy to write scenes for them. A good playwright is also a skilled storyteller. He or she should be able to weave a compelling story with believable characters. Great plays are often referred to as “page-turners.” The story should keep the reader or audience glued to the page until the final scene is reached.
The greatest challenge for any playwright is to make the story come alive through the written word.
Types of Playwriting
Playwriting is the process of writing a play. This can be adapted from a story, a historical event, a novel, or an original idea. The main elements of this process are the script and the choreography, or staging. Before the Play is performed, a script is written.
What is a Play?
A play is a story that is performed in front of an audience. A play can be a comedy, a tragedy, a dramatic, a historical, or a musical. Most plays have a storyline and a cast of characters.
Some plays are based on real people, events, or places. Many plays are based on novels, short stories, and poems.
Some plays are written to be performed on a stage. Others are meant to be read.
Video credit- Apex Drama Tools
What is Playwriting Structure?
The play structure is the structure of a play. In a play, there are three different acts. All three acts have different things, like subplots, rising action, and climaxes.
A subplot is a part of the main plot of a play. A subplot can be a little action going on at the same time as the main plot or significant action. The rising action is the events that lead up to the Play’s climax.
In a play, there are entrances and exits. When two or more people enter or exit, it is called a scene. The scenes help the plot move and make it more interesting. There are many scenes in a play, but there are many more entrances and exits.
Here are some most common Play structures:
Comedy is about making people laugh, which is also the main reason for its popularity. It can be in a short skit, story, or movie. It is said that tragedy plus time equals comedy.
A historical play is based on a real event that happened in the past. The events do not need to have actually happened, just as described in the Play. Many of the best plays are historical.
A dramatic play deals with love, hate, jealousy, greed, etc. It is the most popular type the Play.
Formerly, only a small percentage of plays were written as dramas. Nowadays, more and more plays are being written as dramas.
A musical play has music in it. It is a combination of a play and a song-and-dance routine. The lyrics of the songs often relate to the story being told. Musicals are very popular, and there are many good ones.
Elements of Playwriting
A play is a work of art. It has structure, texture, and it can be analyzed for themes. It is comprised of the following elements:
The setting is the Play’s time, place, and physical environment. The setting should not be confused with the characters or storyline. A setting does not have to be realistic, but it must provide the necessary backdrop for the action.
Characters are the people who appear in the Play. They should be given names, descriptions, and motivations. The character’s actions and words must be believable and consistent. Characters must behave like real people in real situations.
The plot is the events that occur in the Play. It is the Play’s story, and it is not the same as the character’s journey. The plot can be described as a series of events throughout the Play.
A theme is the general idea or message of the Play. It may be explicit or hidden. The theme should be stated clearly at the beginning of the Play.
The Play structure is the order of the events in the Play. Although the structure should follow it, it is not the same as the plot. The structure is crucial because it defines the Play’s beginning, middle, and end.
Dialogue is the conversation between the characters. The dialogue should be specific, and the words should be clear. The dialogue must be consistent with the character’s personality and actions.
Rhythm is the movement of the Play. It is the pace of the action. It is the speed at which the story moves. The rhythm of the Play should be consistent with the character’s actions. It is also the rhythm of the dialogue. The audience can feel the rhythm when they hear the character’s words or see their gestures.
The texture of the Play is the mood of the Play. The texture should be consistent throughout the Play. It should not be abrupt but should be smooth and steady.
The tone is the feeling or attitude of the Play. It is the emotional tone of the Play. The tone is expressed through the dialogue, setting, and character. The tone is consistent throughout the Play.
Timing: Timing is the speed of the action in relation to the dialogue. The timing should be consistent with the rhythm of the dialogue. It should be fast or slow, short or long, and consistent with the character’s actions.
Playwriting are generally formatted in 4 different ways:
A 10-minute play is a short play. Short plays are popular because they are easy to stage It is usually performed in front of an audience, and there are no intermissions. It is easy to write and perform by one person or a small group.
A play is written to be performed in a single setting, usually with one act but can also be performed in two or more acts. It is usually performed in front of an audience, and there are no intermissions. The One-act Play usually runs for 30 – 60 minutes.
Full-length (Evening-length) Play
A full-length play is a more extended play. It is usually written in three acts but can also be written in two or four acts. A full-length play is usually written to be performed in a theatre. The Full-length Play usually runs for 90 minutes to two hours.
A musicals play is a play that contains songs, often performed with music. Such songs are usually sung by the characters but may also be performed by the cast members or other singers. Musicals are often presented in a revue or song cycle, with interconnected two or more songs.
Video credit – Chipmunk Of Power
Playwriting Formatting Rules
Here are some standard Playwriting formatting rules that a Playwright should keep in mind:
- Remember that scene heading should not contain any dialogue.
- Each scene heading should start a new paragraph.
- When you write the setting for a scene, either put it at the end of the scene or in parenthesis within the scene heading.
- Do not use commas to separate scene headings.
- Do not use any quotation marks in your story.
- Do not use any capital letters.
- Do not use any dots, either. (This includes ellipses.) They are not used like that in writing.
What are the Techniques of Playwriting?
There are many techniques of Playwriting. Some are conventional, while others are more specific to the playwright. These techniques are meant to make the Play interesting, draw the reader into the characters, and make the Play a success.
Techniques of Playwriting
1. Repetition of words or phrases
This is important because it helps the audience remember what has been said and feel connected to the characters.
It is when a word begins with the same sound as another word. It is used in plays to create excitement and emotion.
Metaphor is when one thing is compared to another, usually giving meaning to something.
4. Repetition of sounds
Repetition of sounds can add interest and excitement to a play.
An allusion is when something from history or literature is mentioned in a play. It gives the audience a sense of the past.
6. Rhyme and repetition of rhymes
A rhyme is a repetition of words that have the same sound. It is often used in poetry, but it can be used in a play to give a speech rhythm or create excitement.
7. Imitative sounds
This is when a character imitates another character’s voice. This can help the audience to understand who is speaking.
A simile is when something is compared to something else. It is used to express an idea that cannot be put into words.
9. The alliteration of an initial letter
An initial letter alliteration is when a word begins with the same letter as another word. It is used to emphasize a word or to make a point.
Inversion is when the normal word order is reversed. It is used in plays to show emotions.
Furthermore, there are many other techniques of Playwriting. For example, you could use the technique of repetition of words and say the same thing in different ways. This can add interest and excitement to a play.
Video credit – Julia Makes Theatre
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Playwriting
1. Where did Playwriting come from?
Playwriting came from ancient Greece in the form of theater. The theater was a form of entertainment that used the actors, costumes, scenery, and music to tell stories and entertain the audience. The Greek playwrights were the first to develop dramatic forms such as tragedy, comedy, and satire. These forms helped shape the language and the structure of modern plays. The ancient Greeks developed drama to entertain themselves and their gods.
2. What is oral collaborative Playwriting?
In oral collaborative Playwriting, writers work together to develop the ideas and characters in a script. The work is then presented to the audience as a whole, and changes are made based on the audience’s reactions. Oral collaborative Playwriting is often referred to as “script-and-play” or “script-and-story.” It can be a wonderful way for writers to share their ideas and collaborate with other writers.
3. Is Playwriting dead?
I do not think it is dead. There is something about seeing live people in front of you. I am a big fan of the stage, even though many clunkers are on television.
4. How to start Playwriting?
First and foremost, you have to have an idea. Do not start Playwriting unless you have something on your mind that you have to write. It can be a character, a situation, a place, a theme, a certain atmosphere.
It can be something that appeals to you, excites you, and motivates you to get into it. First of all, you have to have an idea, and then you have to develop that idea.
Certainly, it is easier to start writing when you have an idea, but you do not have to have an idea before you start. You can write for the sake of writing, or you can write to express yourself, to tell a story.
5. How to get into Playwriting?
To get into Playwriting, you have to write plays. You have to write plays that are good enough to be read by other playwrights and producers.
Because the only way to learn is to do it yourself, write and get feedback from friends and other playwrights, and have your plays read by people who know the business.
You can not just sit down and write a play. You have to work hard, put in the hours, and write for at least an hour a day.
6. How Playwriting differs from Film?
Playwriting is much more about the writing than about the visual. While scripts for Film are primarily visual, Playwriting relies more on the dialogue and telling the story through the characters. You have to create an opportunity for the actors to speak, and it has to be interesting.
Common Factors that differentiate Playwriting from Films:
A set of rules generally governs scripts for films—a set of rules that you cannot break. The rules are there to help you tell the story and not get in the way. In contrast, a playwright has complete freedom to write the script: no rules, no limits, no boundaries.
Directors & Actors:
The director and the actors have to work together to make a play. In a film, the director is the one who directs, and the actors are just actors. There is no one in charge of the direction of the Film. However, in a play, everyone is in charge.
A playwright has to create a world that is not real. He or she has to imagine the characters, the set, and the stage. This is where the imagination comes in. The playwright can put his or her ideas into words.
By comparison, a film director is more about following the rules and creating a realistic setting.
A playwright has to tell a story. He or she has to be able to tell a story with words. A film director is more about telling the story visually. He or she has to show you what is happening on screen.
7. How Playwriting differs from Prose?
Playwriting is different from Prose because it has a beginning, middle, and end. Prose does not have that. It is simply a collection of words. It can have a beginning, middle, and end, but none can also.
Dialogue is the most obvious difference between Playwriting and Prose. In Prose, there might be a dialogue, but it is not an entire piece, only an aspect. In a play, dialogue is the whole piece. It is what makes or breaks a play.
In Prose, characters are static (described, not shown). Characters in Playwriting are dynamic. They become the central figures in a dramatic situation.
8. How is Playwriting different from both Film & Fiction?
Playwriting is different from Film and Fiction in many ways. However, one of the primary differences is that playwrights do not create characters, only the skeletal structure.
In the Film, a writer can create a character, give him a name, a backstory, and a set of personality traits. The actor then will interpret these words and make the character come to life.
For the same reason, the director must create a world, set up the actors, and make sure that they are comfortable with their characters. All of this takes place before the shooting begins. The playwright, however, has no such luxury. A playwright creates a person who is not defined by his/her thoughts, feelings, or actions. The playwright creates the story and its characters. He/she gives them names and personalities, but the actor will interpret these words and make them come to life.
9. How is Playwriting different from Creative Writing?
The writer of a play is responsible for the characters, plot, and themes. In creative writing, the author’s responsibility is to develop a good idea that will appeal to the reader.
Imagery is another important element of creative writing. In order to write a good story, you must be able to use metaphors and personification to create a vivid mental picture of what is happening.
Playwriting is a craft that requires a deep understanding of drama, character, and human nature. You must develop a believable story with characters that act and react realistically. While in creative writing, you will be able to develop a story or a character that is interesting and holds the reader’s attention. You may also learn how to create insurmountable conflicts. The characters must overcome the conflicts and reach a happy ending.