Why every writer needs to write a play


Yes!! Even you! 

Basically, a few months ago, I was approached and asked to write a script for a play somebody had an idea for, and wanted to direct. Had I ever written anything like this before? Nope. Anyway, ‘she.’ came to be – the story of a voiceless assault victim. The experience was incredible, we worked with such an exciting cast, and donated the money to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. But I took one thing away from it – writing a script is life changing. Here is why EVERY WRITER needs to write a play.

1. Writing exclusively dialogue is hard.

Are you one of those writers who can write enthralling, captivating descriptions, but every conversation is an identical flop? Writing a script will challenge you – all you have to work with is dialogue! And the odd ENTER STAGE RIGHT.

2. Your audience is entirely under your control.

A novel is a private thing. A novel is for you to read, curled up in your room, to react to alone. At your own pace, you can take the time to think about it as the story unfolds overtime. But when you’re writing a play, all the information is revealed to the audience at exactly the moment you want. You (hopefully!) have the audience’s entire attention – the pauses are as you want them to be, not for as long as somebody wants to put the book down. You give them exactly as much time to think about something as you want them to. The play doesn’t have to make it to the stage for this experience. It’s all about thing about how your story  processed.

3. You can experiment with things you just can’t do in a novel.

bUt yOu CaN dO whatever YoU WaNt iN yOuR NoVEl. Not as much as you can do on a stage! In terms of narrative, and plot development, and backstory – again, it doesn’t have to make it to a stage, it’s just about changing the way you think as a writer. In a play, you can put scenes wherever you think works, make everything a mess which suddenly dawns in the last scene. The world is yer erster!

4. You unlock a whole new world of tools to work with.

Lemme say it one more time – YOUR PLAY DOES NOT HAVE TO MAKE IT TO A STAGE FOR YOU TO LEARN FROM THESE  But you suddenly have several new ways to tell your story. Lighting! (COLD LIGHT floods the stage.) What a way to convey a mood! Stage directions! Parentheticals! Cuts and transitions!

5. Wait, so how am I meant to apply this to my novel?

How, exactly, are you meant to apply this to your beloved WIP? I don’t want to be a playwright, you say! I’m a novelist! Well, let me tell you, your dialogue will have improved. Massively. You’ll have a new, interesting mindset on writing stories. And maybe, someday, you’ll make it to Broadway..

I hope this was helpful! As always, if anyone has any writing related questions, feel free to message me, Aoife, @writingguardian

My next post will likely be some with actual play writing advice – so stay tuned! X

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