Tips for Writing Scripts

If you’ve never written a play, you’re like most teenagers. Keep in mind that:

Plays are about desire. We witness a journey in which characters discover what they desire, try to get it, and succeed or fail. A play works when the desire is universal - health, love, comfort, independence - and the obstacles are difficult to overcome.

Effective plays show us a story (prose tells us) through dialogue and dramatic action. If you let us watch your characters interact at key moments, you won’t need a narrator.

Plays are about people in relationships. We stay glued to our seats because events in the play cause the people, and their relationships, to change. Skip the car chases, physical violence and special effects; film does these better.

Create characters you can understand and care about. Find something to love or respect in every character, and we’ll care about your characters too. Since each should be well developed, use as few characters as possible.

Plays come from experience, imagination and knowledge. You’ve got all three. Mix them together and write about what you know, deep inside. Plays that work, regardless of their genre, style or structure, give us a sense of truth.

To start planning, ask yourself:

As you discuss, improvise, write and revise each scene, decide:

Leave plenty of time for revision. Playwriting is rewriting. Good luck with your play!

See the guidelines for the annual California Young Playwrights Contest!