Western Reserve Public Media

Helpful Hints

The best way to keep your play going is to simply let your characters talk things through. As the characters talk and act, they will reveal things about themselves and the situations they are in. Your job becomes mainly one of reacting to what each character says and does. Even though you are the one putting words into their mouths, it is more like reacting than writing. Each line or action leads naturally to the next. Remember: for each action, there is a reaction.


Finishing It Off
Your play will come to an end when a final solution is found to the main problem and each of the complications. Finding a good resolution may be your greatest challenge as a playwright. If you choose a resolution that is too obvious or predictable or one that is too far out of line, your audience will be disappointed. They will be looking forward to an ending that is at least a little bit surprising
or unexpected, but also believable. End with a good closing line, one which brings it all together and also brings a smile, a laugh,
a groan.


Correcting: Reviewing and Revising
The most important thing to look for in a finished play is whether it works. Read your play out loud, by yourself at first. Make changes and corrections. Then get several friends or classmates to read it aloud (each taking a part) while you listen. Ask for their comments and make changes as necessary. Finally, correct any spelling or mechanical errors.


Dialogue Writing Tip
Read your dialogue out loud whenever possible and use simple, everyday language. Keep your characters “alive” by giving them lines in all scenes in which they are present. Often, the minor characters can be given questions to ask, such as “What’s going on?” This gives you a way to explain something to your audience that otherwise is difficult to work into your dialogue. Make sure each character has a distinct voice (not only the tone of the voice but the way in which the character speaks).


Writing Tip
It is often a good idea to build the action in your play around one main character, the character who is most affected by the main problem or is most responsible for solving it. The other characters help (or hinder) this character. This character should have a distinctive personality, one that may change as the play progresses. This personality will determine how the person talks (loudly, softly, boastfully), what the person says, and how the other characters react to him or her. Your character needs actions — avoid having him or her just stand around talking.


Stage Directions
Stage directions always apply to the actor as he faces the audience:

  • Stage right (R): The actor’s right as he faces the audience

  • Stage left (L): The actor’s left as he faces the audience

  • Downstage (D): Nearest the audience

  • Upstage (U): Away from the audience

The acting area on stage is generally divided into nine locations. The abbreviations are the same as those for stage directions: “C” means stage center. The following diagram indicates stage areas.



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