A brilliant script is the foundation of a great play. It holds the key to a performance full of memorable characters and intriguing storylines. In this blog, we explain how to write a play script and share our script writing tips.
1. Read a range of scripts
As well as using your surroundings and personal experiences as inspiration for your script, it is important to read other scripts or watch plays. Treat yourself to a day out at the theatre and take note of what motifs or concepts the writer used.
Check out script archives, either in your local library in physical form or on websites such as Simply Scripts. These will give you an insight into the diverse range of scripts that are out there and may even provide you with a breakthrough in terms of your great idea.
It can also be beneficial to read the plays of famous playwrights such as Shakespeare or Arthur Miller. These plays are legendary for a reason! Look at how they introduce their characters and how they format their plays.
2. Improve your writing skills
As with any creative art, practice makes perfect. If you are looking for a career in the film and performance industry, consider signing up for an online course. Creative writing classes are a great idea for aspiring playwrights.
Attending a writing workshop will not only equip you with the skills you need to create a brilliant script, but it will also put you in contact with other people like yourself who understand the writing process and share similar experiences. Often these classes are run by experienced professionals. It is these experts you need to talk to if you want to pursue a career in theatre and performance.
At iampro, we offer creative writing courses led by industry experts. These cover the basics of writing creatively for stage, from writing a scene, to prompt writing and creating poetry.
3. Don’t give up on your idea
Remember that great play idea you had? Well, don’t give up on it! Perseverance is everything when it comes to writing a script. Don’t be put off if you have a few creative blocks along the way. It takes time to write and perfect a script and it won’t be something that is written in a mere few days.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Pick up a newspaper or open social media and see what ideas spring to mind. Try to create characters out of the stories you read about and don’t be afraid of writing out of your comfort zone.
4. Write the first page
The best thing to do if you are stuck on what to write is to just concentrate on the first page. Don’t worry about making it fit with the rest of the play or the many ideas that are whirling around in your head, just write one page.
Once the first page has been written your play is free to take any direction you want it to. Work from that first page and go with the flow of your ideas. If they stray from your original plans or drafts, don’t panic! One of the best script writing tips is that there is no set way to write a script.
5. Develop your characters
A compelling plot is nothing without developed and believable characters. Take inspiration from those around you such as family members, friends, or just people you have met over the years who made an impression on you. There may be a character in your favourite book or play that you want to modify and use in your play.
However, it is important to avoid cliched characters or characters that everyone is familiar with. Although it can sometimes be difficult to free your characters completely from cliche, you can try techniques such as switching up your plot or playing with gender or age to create something interesting that people won’t have seen before.
When writing a character, consider how they are going to change or develop alongside the plot. Will the audience empathise with them? You don’t want to get to the end and realise that you have completely neglected a character!
6. Read it out loud and with friends
If you are unable to act out your script it makes it difficult to visualise on stage. To combat this, consider asking your friends or family to take on different roles and read it alongside you. This will help you imagine how your play will come together.
It will also help you notice anything in your script that doesn’t make sense or sound as good as you hoped. You can then tweak it as necessary.
7. Format your script
If you want to write a script, you shouldn’t forget about the formatting. Formatting your script is just as important as the content itself. Don’t forget to add in scene headings, subheadings, and character names.
Make sure that you also use stage directions. Stage directions are an important formal element of script writing. They help to cue the actor into a scene and are therefore a vital set of instructions.
8. Be proud of your achievement!
Finally, be proud of what you have achieved! Writing a script can be a laborious process and may involve lots of drafts and redrafts. Regardless of how long it may have taken you, try to now take the time to reflect on the process. Look back at what you could do differently next time. Finally, share your script with those around you and submit it to competitions.
If you have been inspired by these script writing tips, at iampro, we offer weekly live classes as well as on-demand courses in production, including creative writing. Take a look at our membership options to find out more.