This book is a resource designed to help guide you through the essential components of a play and is designed to serve as a guide to helping you develop a process for your writing that has been proven over time to be successful. These lessons are garnered from many books, interviews, classes, and life lessons on playwriting and story development.
1: PlaywritingPlaywriting is a terrifying and exhilarating endeavor and it is the basis of dramatic art. The audience came to hear a story, escape from their lives and problems, and be transformed by experiencing the struggles of another individual. The playwright is the creator of worlds, deity of conflict, and messenger of the essential truths human beings need to hear over and over throughout their lives. However, like with all things, with great power comes great responsibility. 2: The Steps of the Writing ProcessAn overview of the 15 Steps involved in writing a play. 3: The Idea StoreSome writers are idea factories and can look almost anywhere and find a new twist on a story or situation that is worth watching, but what do you do when you cannot find an idea? That is easy, you go to the Idea Store. The Idea Store is a series of exercises that are designed to get your synapses firing and your creative juices flowing. There will always be times where you are at a loss of ideas and so the Idea Store was created to help you get started on a concept for your story. 4: ResearchYour level research is dependant upon the story you are telling. Some projects like biographies or historical dramas require vast amounts of research, while others require very little because you are creating an original world. You also can choose where to add research into your process, for some projects it may be in the beginning as you are gathering ideas and other times it may be once you have developed characters and have identified a setting and conflict. 5: ThemeA theme is an idea, a simple, clear, and powerful idea. Every story you have ever been told was created to teach you something. The more powerful and life changing the lesson, the more sacred the story. Human beings are incredible entities that extract meaning from stories that are not true. It is this ability that has allowed the arts and creativity to thrive. 6: ConflictConflict is the primary ingredient of drama and without it drama ceases to exist. Conflict is when two opposing forces collide. David and Goliath, Harry Potter and Voldemort, You and Your Future are all examples of opposing forces and these forces meet within the battlefield of story. Stories were invented to help us make sense of the world and find our place in it, and the world is full of conflict. 7: Types of StoryOne element of the book that broadened my perspective of storytelling was his section on the 10 different types of stories. Once his observation was pointed out I started to see how each type of conflict could fit neatly in each story type and I feel that this knowledge is incredibly helpful to anyone entering the art of storytelling. The following is my understanding of Blake Snyder’s information but I encourage you to read the book for a deeper analysis. 8: SettingThe setting is the environment in which the conflict can take place. The conflict and setting will also contribute to the action (or things that happen) on stage. You can set your play in any location you choose and as many locations as you would like. You can have a single location or multiple locations however, there are pros and cons to each. 9: Character and Story ArchetypesThere are many character and story archetypes yet each story has 5 essential archetypes. In some cases one character can be the vessel for several of the following types, yet these archetypes are always present in stories. The following are an amalgamation of many theories, yet the more you study story structure you will notice how each theory and perspective has many commonalities with its counterparts. The following is my attempt to combine them. 10: PlotPlot is the series of events that are structured to take the hero on a transformative journey throughout the story. Stories have been around for centuries and throughout that time the structure of storytelling has become solidified and with that there are essential components or rules you must follow. There are always attempts to break the form and some are done quite well, but if you just follow the structure and deliver a strong and well crafted story your audience will be receptive and happy. 11: DialogueDialogue is the primary tool used for storytelling in theater. Film uses imagery, novels use descriptions, comics use pictures, theater uses dialogue. As a playwright the audience will not read, hear, or see your stage directions, but they will hear every word of your dialogue. Dialogue and action are how you drive the plot, develop characters relationships, and tell your story. Dialogue is also used to reveal characters inner emotions, their past experiences, or vulnerability and frustrations. 12: Creating CharactersCreating original characters is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you will have as an artist. You are bringing something into being through your imagination and audience members will live and see the world through this character’s eyes and experiences and often this fictional character will make a lasting impact on actual people’s lives. 13: SceneA scene is a character’s attempt to solve a problem. At the beginning of your story you introduce the world of the play and the characters who inhabit it. You then need to establish a normal day for the characters in the world. At the end of the first scene you will need to introduce the major conflict of the play. Every additional scene is a character attempting to solve the problem or conflict and by failing to do so making their plight worse. 14: Crafting the PlotEvery story you tell will be creating a world where you present a problem and over the course of the story you solve it. In the process of solving the problem the hero is transformed and through the character’s journey the audience learns an important essential truth. However, in order to tell this story you need to first chart the course of events that will take place so that you can maximize the impact of your narrative. 15: The ProcessEvery playwright has a process unique to them and this process will begin to shape how you develop ideas. The process I am going to outline for you is a helpful guide to keep you moving towards completion. Tell your story, and along the way you will find that even though you will have plotted out where you wish to go with the story, it can change and you will find that as the author you discover the play more than create it.