Creative writing is an important part of the arts and performance industry. Writing creatively for the stage involves many different processes and steps. It takes practice and patience to create the perfect script.
What is scriptwriting?
Creative writing in the theatre and performance industry mainly consists of scriptwriting. Scripts are made up of three major parts: dialogue, stage directions, and acting instruction. These elements must all be carefully devised to create a successful and complete script.
What is especially difficult about scriptwriting is ensuring that the storyline is clear and developed fully. Unlike fiction writing, you can not easily reveal your character’s inner thoughts or describe specific movements or settings when scriptwriting. Instead, this must all be expressed through dialogue and stage directions.
Before you start writing
Before you start writing creatively for the stage, you must consider a few things. Firstly, whom are you writing for? Ensuring that you know your audience is a priority. Your audience will shape your play in terms of the subjects it will cover and the characters you decide to create. Once you have established who your audience is, you can start to write a synopsis.
A synopsis is a brief overview of the storyline or plot of your play. This can even be done in the form of bullet points. All that matters is that you get the most significant events down in the right order. After you have written your synopsis you can flesh it out with key phrases you may want to include in your script or character interactions. Pay particularly close attention to the opening and ending of your play.
Create your characters
When it comes to creating your characters, you may want to think about what type of person your audience will respond well to and will keep them gripped. Then you can start to devise their progression throughout the play, including the character’s relationships with one another and any conflict.
When creating a character it is important to remember that facial expressions, pauses, changes in tone, gestures, and other reactions are all available to performers in theatre and film. As well as this, dialogue is closer to conversational speech than in most fiction-writing – make the most of this! In dialogues, don’t be afraid to utilise incomplete phrases and, in general, let your characters speak and act as they would in real life.
Don’t be scared to draft
Drafting is a vital part of any writing process. Ensuring that you can get your ideas down on the page is the first stage of producing anything creative. It is rare for a first draft to be worthy of submission and it can take multiple before you become close to the final product.
When you start writing you may even find that huge sections of your original script need changing or entire storylines need to be removed. This should all be embraced as part of the creative process.
The art of proofreading
As with anything you write, it is vital that you read it over multiple times and check for any holes in the storyline as well as spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Reading aloud is especially important with scriptwriting as it gives you an idea of how it will sound when it is being performed on stage.
If you can, perhaps ask somebody you trust to read over your work and give you feedback. If you have multiple parts, it may even be fun to gather a group of people to run through the script almost as a mock performance.
Creative writing courses
If you are interested in learning more about how to write creatively for the stage, perhaps consider signing up for some courses or workshops. These will allow you to get started and give you the space to share your ideas and work.
At iampro, we offer courses on production that covers directing through to creative writing. If you are thinking about honing your writing skills, something that is beneficial to any performer, sign up.