Most creative writers are skilled in several forms of literature, be it prose, poetry or drama. They use these different forms to give expression to the ideas and concepts that inspire them. Some writers may discover that one particular form of creative writing suits them best, while others continue to experiment with all genres and enjoy working in different mediums.
Writing scripts for theater can be a daunting task unless you are well-versed with the traditions of theater and stage-craft. Script writing is a highly skilled and technical form of writing which may not be every one’s cup of tea, no matter how skilled they are in other forms of writing. Some highly-talented and popular writers have had little success with writing scripts for theater, whereas others strike gold at the first instance.
A keen sense of dramatic elements, character, plot and structure are important in script writing. Unlike other forms of creative writing, where themes and ideas can dominate, here action and character are as important as plot.
The first thing to keep in mind when you decide to pen a script is the type and genre of play you want to write. Some playwrights are skilled in creating children’s plays, others prefer pure entertainment and comedy, while still others create memorable characters who can carry the weight of an entire full-length play on their shoulders. Serious and philosophical drama with a dash of comedy to leaven the heaviness, farce and satire or experimental theater, with underlying deeply humane questions – all these are the stuff of great drama. Writers usually know their strengths and weaknesses, so they can choose their genre based on these. You also need to ask yourself why you’re writing this play: is it to make people think, laugh, weep, be entertained or resolve to take action?
Along with the plot, you can begin to flesh out your characters. Make them realistic; give them lines in keeping with their age, personality, gender and type. Most playwrights visualize their characters in great detail, right down to their gestures, tone of voice, costumes and body language and they include these details in the stage instructions. Remember, the spoken and written word can be quite different. Use more colloquial language rather than formal, stilted lines.
Make several drafts and give the final one to a theater person to go through and incorporate any valid suggestions. You can finally choose whether to publish the play or to send it directly on to the stage.