How to make a theatrical script
Do you have an original idea in your head that you want to turn into a play? Your biggest problem is that you don’t know where to start? The theatrical genre has consolidated for decades thanks to well-known playwrights who have moved theater to all spheres of society.
Many people believe that writing a play is something sought after and expensive … but nothing could be further from the truth!
The theater is more alive than ever and with enough knowledge about the subject, it is possible to elaborate effective and original theatrical scripts. From a HOWTO we want to help you by offering you a guide on how to make a theatrical script step by step.
We detail the steps to follow and some recommendations so that you start working writing your own work. Open the curtain and get your mind on this adventure!
What is a theatrical script?
A theatrical script is a text that details all the elements and actions that make up a play. It is aimed at those who participate in the work and contains all the dialogues and technical or artistic details necessary for the realization of it.
The theatrical script specifies all the details that must be taken into account for the staging, as well as the guidelines that the participants of the same must follow: actors, directors, technicians, etc.
This text contains all the elements that will give life to the work, such as the dialogues, the actions, the type of costume, the lighting or the set, so we could say that it is the script that is in charge of throwing the common thread of the story that you want to tell.
Whether you want to make a short theatrical script (perfect for beginners) or if you want to elaborate a work of longer duration, it is essential that the script is well detailed.
Parts of a theatrical script
Wondering what the structure of a theatrical script is? As we have seen, the script specifies all the details of the work that you want to present. In this case, it should be borne in mind that the structure of a theatrical script must have a principle, a knot and an outcome. However, we have already seen that there are many elements of a theatrical script that we must include.
Therefore, we will not only talk about the structure but about all the parts of a theatrical script, which are the following:
- Title of the work:
the title of any work is fundamental for the public to identify it.
in turn, these are divided into main and secondary. You must define very well the personality and characteristics of each character and, if possible, how he is dressed and even what internal conflicts he has (if it is relevant to the story).
this is one of the most important elements in a theatrical script, since it will give guidelines on the changes of sets and the movement, arrangement and gestures of the actors on stage. Here you can write down all the details that the playwright considers necessary for the correct realization and interpretation of the work.
the acts refer to each of the parts of the work and are shown listed. The passage from one act to another implies a change in the scenery.
it is within the same act and refers to the characters that appear on stage, so a change of scene would mean a change of characters or of disposition of the characters.
is an element integrated within a scene that represents situations or brief dialogues that can be independent of the common thread of the story. In the boxes you can or may not change the decoration.
these are the texts interpreted by the actors.
this happens when on stage you find a single character who interprets a text for himself, for other characters who are not on stage or for the public.
Characteristics of a theatrical script
We have already talked about the main elements of a theatrical script, however, depending on the type of work you are working on, it must meet some specific characteristics or others.
Here are the main characteristics of a theatrical script that you should know:
- Coherent structure:
a good theatrical script must be provided with a certain structure that allows the coherent realization of the work. A linear structure in a play is composed of the introduction, the knot and the outcome, so that the guiding thread of the play has to keep coherence from the beginning to the end.While it is true that this structure is the standard when writing theatrical scripts – and the most recommended for beginners – there are playwrights who go beyond these limits and settle on more experimental structures.
- Concrete scenic details:
this implies a detailed description by the author of each of the elements that must appear on the staging during the course of the work.
- Clear dialogues:
they are all those conversations that form a play. These must be specified with a hyphen, the name of the character and two points that precede the text to be interpreted. Dialogues are one of the most important elements of any work and you have to work very well.
- Character action:
a theatrical script needs to specify the actions of the characters in the story to make sense of the play and help the actors better interpret their dialogues.
Before you start writing your own play, you can always take a look at a good example of a theatrical script to inspire you. It does not need to be the script of a popular and great work, but by analyzing an example of a short theatrical script you can get a clear idea of the order that all these elements must follow.
How to make a theatrical script step by step
Once each of the parts and elements of a theatrical script is clear, you can start working on your own script. To do this, we propose some initial questions that any playwright should ask himself before starting to write his work:
- What story do I want to tell?:
you have to think carefully about what you want to tell, transmit, make visible, or expose in the work. It is advisable to focus on a specific idea or on a situation that serves as a starting point, because this will give better results than a great abstract idea.
- How am I going to tell the story?:
once you have clear the main plot of the work, you will have to detail the structure of your narrative thread: is it going to be something linear and coherent? Will it have introduction, conflict and solution, or will it be an open end?
- How many characters are there and what are they like?:
it is essential that you define what the personality of each of them will be like. This implies hard creative work and possibly involves the core of the work, so you have to invest a lot of time to define all the details that affect our characters.
Remember that you must be credible and they have to differentiate themselves well from each other.
- What type of scenery will my work have?:
the next step will be to identify at what time, place and / or circumstances the play will be set, so you can get an idea of the ornaments and scenery that must be inserted in each staging.
- How do I make the end?:
you have to be clear about how to resolve the conflict of the story and, if it is an open end, think about the possible interpretations that the audience can give. You should always try to orient the work towards what you want to transmit.
Steps to make a theatrical script
Do you already know what you want to tell and how are you going to do it? If so, follow the steps we provide from a HOWTO to prepare a good theatrical script.
- Make an eraser or a ladder of the work that contains the acts and scenes, always detailing what happens in each part.
- Don’t be in a hurry to finish your theatrical script, in fact, we recommend that you make as many drafts as necessary until you feel convinced with your work.
- Once you have the acts and scenes more or less well delimited, start writing the dialogues. Remember that you have to do it coherently, so don’t stop too long to beautify these dialogues, for that there will be time towards the end.
- Try to make the dialogue fit well with the definition of the personality of each character.
- Write down the dimensions you think are necessary. A trick for this is to imagine that you see the work from the outside so that you can identify all the details of the actions, the lighting, the stage, etc. that are relevant for the story to take on the desired meaning.
- Once you have written the acts, scenes, dialogues and dimensions, the time will have come to polish all the details of the work so that it is as complete as possible. In the case of dialogues, for example, you will have to rewrite them to give them a natural touch (you can even record yourself saying them). It is possible that throughout this step new dimensions will appear that you will have to include referring, above all, to gestures and non-textual reactions of the characters.
- When you finish these steps, you can reread and continue polishing the work until you get the desired results and close the script with a good ending.
- We recommend that the last step is to choose the title. Although many prefer to do it at first, most playwrights need to see the work finished to be inspired to find a good title that fits.
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