An introduction to playwriting—All you need to know to get going


Heart, instinct, and integrity all play crucial roles in playwriting. Yet pragmatism is something that should be kept in mind too. Thus, any introduction to playwriting should begin with this single piece of advice: never neglect the practical aspects.


A play, in literature, is the text written in the dialogue form, with intentions of a theatrical performance. Just like a short story or novel, a play too has characters, plots, settings, and, at times, even uses symbolism to draw attention to burning issues. Since the entire play depends highly on dialogues, a clear understanding of the basics is immensely crucial. Read on to know about some of the fundamental points of playwriting.


Understand the form

Every form of writing comes with its own unique style, and the first step is to master it. For instance, if you want to write mystery novels, you have to read mystery novels. You should read poetry if you want to be a poet. Similarly, you’ve to go read through several plays and watch them being performed on the stage to understand the unique style of playwriting.


Define your characters

Plays are all about people, as well as the encounter between justice and injustice in different forms. Elaborate sets and excessive props are more likely to detract your audience from the characters. Besides, you should stay away from writing extensive character descriptions as that may risk undermining the script. Instead, just come up with a list of names of characters and nothing more, unless you need to mention a distinct physical description or age.


Incorporate a conflict

One of the biggest ideas for playwriting is to include a conflict in your play. Conflict stands for struggle between two forces and is something that makes a story interesting. A compelling conflict greatly helps the audience to connect with the play. Remember—happiness is something good to feel yet boring to watch. When weaving conflict into your play, try to come up with a solution or possible solution to the clash.


Stage test the play

This is a common playwriting advice: always stage test your play. Find a group of trusted friends or members in the family or an amateur theater group willing to give your final piece a dramatic reading. This will give you a sense of coherence, pacing, and flow of the dialogues, which would help you rectify the flaws, if any, accordingly.


Making your mark as a playwright isn’t an easy task. The field is considerably tough, thanks to fierce competition. But if you learn the basics and give your best shot in terms of coming up with a powerful story and well-etched characters, you’ll surely have more chances to succeed.


What’s your take on playwriting? Feel free to ask for more advice in the comments section below. You can reach me through my other channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Guest column. 2013. “8 Ways Any Writer Can Get Started in the Craft of Playwriting.” Reader’s Digest, October 17. Accessed December 16, 2017.

Gillinson, Miriam. 2013. “Writing for the theatre? Be Practical.” The Guardian, September 26. Accessed December 16, 2017.


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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD