What Are the Best Tips for a Playwright?

The highly visual aspect of a playwright’s medium should always be kept in mind. While dialogue is important, an audience can become bored if there is no interesting action on stage. One of the most important things for aspiring playwrights to remember is to focus on becoming a good writer rather than a director. Studying successful plays in script form is an important tip for playwrights who want to improve their craft. It’s also critical to be able to write plays that are the right length for a particular theater or festival.

Playwrights should practice writing in a variety of lengths and formats, including one-, three-, and four-act versions, as well as versions with and without an intermission. Some festivals favor ten-minute plays, while a theater may require one-and-a-half-hour productions. A one-act play usually lasts less than an hour, but a playwright should always adhere to the times set the venue.

Aspiring playwrights should attend plays and study scripts on a regular basis. Learning how to translate something written in a script to the stage is a skill that new playwrights may overlook, but it can mean the difference between success and mediocrity in the industry. Playwrights should examine both what they believe works and what they believe does not when watching and reading plays.

Being unique is essential for a playwright to gain positive attention. He or she should have something to say that is unique and different from the work of other playwrights. It’s still necessary to produce an acceptable script format that doesn’t give too much direction when trying to accomplish this. For example, the director’s job is to tell actors what emotions they should be feeling and how to portray them in detail, but the writer can and should note the tone of lines within a dialog or action, such as “Maria: (annoyed) “Well, just go!” (slams the door)

Playwrights should mention actions in the script, such as slamming a door or an actor moving from one room to the next, in the form of stage directions, but not in great detail. Wherever possible, a playwright should “show” rather than “tell,” while also providing strong dialog that is realistic for each character. While the cost of the necessary stage sets should be kept in mind as the playwright writes, the idea of a visual spectacle of compelling action must still drive a successful playwright.