Writing for the 21st
Common Errors in Play Writing
sure that your stage directions are in round parentheses and italicized to
distinguish them from the rest. (Sighs.)
stage directions should follow all the other rules of sentences. Be sure
to capitalize if it is the beginning of a sentence and put a period if it
is standing alone. Incorporate your action where you want it to occur, not
before or after.
- (Stands up slowly.) I think I am
going to break out into song now. (He
grabs a fedora hat and starts kicking like a chorus girl. He begins to sing.) One, singular
get so frustrated (bangs her hand
on the desk) when people do that!
oh, commas! When addressing another person or thing, slap a comma after
can I have three thousand dollars for a makeover?
Table-top, Table-top, you are so slick…
like special attention, too. Give them a comma designation or exclamation
I like mine rare.
- Ew! You are so gross! You
probably like raw eggs.
how did you know?
- Why so
many wells? Even though you may think this adds to realism, plays are
organized constructions of reality, so don’t bombard your speakers with
tons of verbal tics, unless it is intentional:
Bob, I, uh, well, I like her. I mean, I, well, er,
Jane, how are you?
Stevie, I am fine.
ZAM! I think there was a laser beam of high energy… How did we switch that
actor and scene set so quickly?
this is a play, not a movie. Consider the scenery changes and actors’
movements. Scenes should flow into one another naturally as well as
dramatically, but this is hard to do if we have a scene change every five
seconds, or if an actor has to maneuver into a whole new zone. Keep these
factors in mind.
planes, and automobiles. Tough to bring on stage. Remember, you aren’t
Quentin Tarantino with a camera. You have a LIVE audience!
YOUR SPEAKERS and SKIP A LINE BETWEEN EACH SPEAKER.
- Bob: I hate all this detail. Why
can’t I just write?
don’t BORE your audience. While many of us watch reality television, even
that’s edited. Editors seek out “meaningful” blurbs, dialogue, etc. Ask
yourself, does this help advance my story along in a
n interesting way?
Along the same lines, you don’t need to include EVERYTHING. Ask yourself,
“Can some of this be recapped with a simple statement later?”
- Olga: Fabian, do you remember
that time my mother made me walk home from the mall? I
swear, she’s evil.