How To Write A Script
Maggie Hamand, author of Creative Writing For Dummies, offers expert advice and guidance in this video tutorial designed to provide an overview of the different elements involved in writing a play script.
There are basically two kinds of scripts. One is usually called a screenplay and that's for film and television. The other is a play script which is what I'm going to talk about here.
You can look at screenplay if you want to know how to write a screenplay. If you're writing a play script, it's really important to realize that this is going to be performed and that it's expensive to put on a performance and so you need to think about keeping things simple. You don't want too many characters, you don't want too many locations and you don't want your story to take place over, say, ten years.
Aristotle wrote about the three unities of theater. He wrote that it's important to have unity of action, which means that your play is about one thing, basically, without lots of subplots. Secondly, is the unity of time.
He thought that a play should take place over twenty-four hours and not longer. And the third thing is the unity of place; it should essentially take place in one place. Actually, that's not a bad place to begin if you want to write a play.
Pick a small cast, three or four characters is plenty, think of one main place where it happens. Also, you can think about having your play set over a short contained period of time, like one day is really good, but it could be, actually live, one hour or two hours, the length of the play. It's important as well to think about where it's going to be performed because that can really affect your script.
If it's going to be performed in a grand theatre, it's going to be a little bit different from if it's going to be in a very small theatre, and if it's going to be in the round, rather than in a standard proscenium stage, then you're going to be able to do different things. So it's important to think about that first. It's also really important that you try out your script on real actors.
You can just try it out with your local amateur dramatic company, but it's really important that people try it out on stage to see if it works. You'll soon see if characters are stumbling over one another or if one character is droning on for far too long and the other two are standing around with nothing to do. It's also important to think about the three act structure.
The beginning of the play is your set up. Your characters are introduced and it's really important that one of them, at least, has some major motivation that steers them through the story. You also need to have some complications - other characters getting in the way, something that's stopping your character getting what they want.
And with your first script, try not to be too ambitious, think about keeping things fairly simple. A play can really be moving if it's about something very small. Finally, you need to have your climax, the moment where the big confrontation occurs, the moment when the murder happens, the moment when the character has that realization that changes their life forever.
And then after that climax, we need a little bit of time before we have the end of the play, for the characters to explore a little bit what the repercussions of that climactic scene are. It's also really important to leave wide margins around the edge of your script so there's plenty of room for the director to scribble things in the margin and for your actors and actresses to mark up the script as well with their own actions, thoughts, and feelings about the characters. And that's how to write a script. .