I remember the first script I wrote, it wasn’t that long ago and since I’m a theatre and communications student, it was a major accomplishment. It was a terrible script with a cliché plot but I felt a great sense of accomplishment after finishing it. I’ve grown tremendously since I was scriptwriting in general but the reason for that is my new love which is playwriting. I wrote three plays in a span of six months and the skills I learnt from it has shown how impactful this form of writing is. Playwriting is something you should definitely try out because of its numerous benefits:
A play relies heavily on dialogue, thus improving your dialogue writing skills. Since the play is happening live, you learn to create more variety in sentence length, character rhythm and speech differences because obviously every individual has a unique way of talking.
Playwriting requires a full focus on a few characters unlike screenplay, which typically involves many characters appearing in only one scene. Characters on stage need careful development with every detail thought out, from their past to their peculiar habits, because the audience has to live with them almost endlessly so they have to be interesting and complex.
Getting more from confined space and settings
If you’ve seen a play, you know the whole story happens on one stage with a few minor changes to show different locations. Playwrights lack the luxury of changing sets at their pen tips and they need to squeeze everything out of their settings. Learning to milk what’s given to you is a precious skill in writing and producing independent films as well.
Defining How Action is More Important
No doubt, a plot is important but it’s not “action,” which is defined as “a purposeful change.” Plays require action throughout to keep audiences engrossed while screenplay gets majorly caught up in the plot. Too much and too complex of a plot is not easy for a live audience to follow. It’s better to have a clearer story focused on the play’s true action. This discipline is easier to learn in playwriting, which limits add-ons.
But how do you start writing a play? Initially, it’s fairly easy when to work on the first draft but it gets tougher later on. For your first play, get a decent plot ready and know the characters you want. Later, write down a summary of the entire show along with a full history and description of each character. Each activity requires full concentration for 2 minutes nonstop. Then start writing the dialogue and even if you feel like it’s probably going to be the worst thing ever written, don’t stop. It can definitely be improved; you’re not working in a limited timeframe.
Viola, you’ve finished your first draft, now comes the tough part. You will need people to read it aloud and ask listeners for their feedback. Some clever bits might need to be taken off, a clever joke no one caught on to, and so on. The list is endless but if there is something you really don’t want to be removed then stick to it because well, it’s your play. Also, you’ll definitely catch on to the play’s issues faster than listeners when it’s read out. I would recommend using the book Perfect 10 by Garry Garrison if you’re now interested in writing a play. It’s a guidebook for writing 10-minute plays but move on from that by doing one-act and three-act plays later. Now, start writing!