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Writing Your First Play, 2nd Edition

Book Description

Writing Your First Play provides the beginning playwright with the tools and motivation to tell a story through dramatic form. Based in a series of exercises which gradually grow more complex, the books helps the reader to understand the basic elements of drama, conflict, and action. The exercises help the reader to become increasingly sophisticated in the use of dramatic formats, turning simple ideas into a viable play.

Topics include:
the role of action in drama;
developing action and conflict to reveal character;
writing powerful and persuasive dialog;
writing from personal experience:pros and cons;
how to begin the story and develop the storyline.

This new edition is thoroughly updated and contains new examples based on contemporary plays. The author has added additional writing exercises and a new student-written one act play. It also contains a new chapter on how to sell your play once it is written.

With examples based on student work, this text both inspires and educates the student and fledgling playwright, providing solid tools and techniques for the craft of writing a drama.

Roger A. Hall, a professor of theatre at James Madison University, had taught playwriting for nearly 20 years. Many of his students have gone on to write for theatre, television, and the screen. He has written numerous plays and articles and has acted and directed extensively in the theatre.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Foreword
  7. Preface
  8. Introduction
  9. 1. Action
    1. Dramatic Action Provokes Questions
    2. Dramatic Action Employs Verbs
    3. Exercise 1.1
    4. Evaluation
    5. Example: A Man in a Bus Terminal
    6. Evaluation
    7. Where Ideas Come From
  10. 2. Direct Conflict
    1. Obstacles and Conflict
    2. Outcomes
    3. Stage Terminology
    4. Exercise 2.1
    5. Example: Who’s Selling Out Now?
    6. Example: Absolutely Nothing
    7. Evaluation
  11. 3. Character
    1. Character vs. Action
    2. Example: A Woman At Christmas
    3. Exercise 3.1
    4. Example: Big Brother
    5. Example: Conversation
    6. Evaluation
  12. 4. Dialogue
    1. Exposition and “Chunking”
    2. Clichés
    3. Exercise 4.1
    4. Adverb Disease
    5. Example: Good Idea, If It Works
    6. Evaluation
  13. 5. Three-Character Conflict
    1. Three in a Room
    2. Dramatic Irony and Love Triangles
    3. Exercise 5.1
    4. Example: Break
    5. Evaluation
    6. Example: Nibbles
    7. Evaluation
  14. 6. Writing From Life
    1. Emotional Connections and Hazards
    2. Exercise 6.1
    3. Example: Cliché
    4. Evaluation
    5. Example: The Donut Shop
    6. Evaluation
  15. 7. Writing From a Source
    1. Dangers of Fact
    2. Exercise 7.1
    3. Example: Abracapocus
    4. Evaluation
    5. Example: Unattainable
    6. Evaluation
  16. 8. Expanding Your Skills
    1. Spontaneous Composition
    2. Exercise 8.1
    3. Example: Get a Life
    4. Problem Solving: People, Places, and Props
    5. Exercise 8.2
    6. Location, Location, Location!
    7. Exercise 8.3
    8. Words, Words, Words
    9. Exercise 8.4
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise 8.5
    12. Live Theater
    13. Exercise 8.6
    14. Animals
    15. Exercise 8.7
  17. 9. Writing Your Play
    1. Why Now?
    2. Style
    3. Exercise 9.1
    4. Example: Cable Man
    5. Evaluation
  18. 10. Marketing Your Play
    1. Format
    2. Productions, Agents, and Contracts
    3. Contests
    4. Retreats, Residencies, Seminars, and the Web
    5. Play-Leasing Companies and Publishers
    6. Writing Your Second Play
  19. Appendix: Classroom Procedures
  20. Bibliography
  21. Index