Playwriting Guidelines

Charles quick set of script contest guidelines These are a quick set of guidelines for writing one acts. As with all guidelines, they can be broken, as long as you have a good reason for breaking them. These guidelines are primarily for new writers. One act plays should have simple sets which do not obstruct the audience in any way from seeing the action on the stage. Scene changes should be simple and fluid. Blackouts should be kept to a minimum because they take the audience out of the play. Costume changes should be kept to a minimum for the same reason. Exposition should be kept to a minimum so as not to bore your audience. Try not to have your characters talk about off-stage characters that the audience never sees, unless that character has a big effect(not a minor effect) but a big effect on the action on stage. Again, you will only bore your audience. Stage direction and stage business should be carefully thought out. They need to make sense to the reader.

Dialogue is key Dialogue reveals everything. Make it believable. The action should result from the flaws and strengths of the characters. Conflict and resolution, a beginning, a middle and an end are important pieces of the plot structure. If possible, write on more than one level. And most of all, write about something that you are passionate about. These guidelines are an insanely superficial guide to one-act playwriting. Go and see plays, read plays, Get involved in your local theatre company. Get involved in one-act play festivals. These festivals will teach you in a hurry what works and what doesn't.

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