If you think about plays you’ve enjoyed, that stay with you, and try and work out why they were memorable, the likelihood is that it’s because they were emotionally engaging. Good plays make us feel. They make us care about the characters, and they usually do so by putting the characters in compromising positions. The stakes need to be high, i.e. the characters must be making decisions which effect their lives in a major way. There’s a knock at the door. If your protagonist doesn’t answer, then what? Make the stakes high. It can’t just be that he’ll miss his amazon delivery…. unless the Amazon delivery is life saving drugs.
Let’s look at a bigger example. A play in which two teenagers falls in love in adverse circumstances, where they’re threatened with banishment if they stay together makes us care because the stakes are high. Loss is imminent. They must make a choice- stay together and lose their families or be apart forever. That is a good play. It is, of course, Romeo and Juliet. In contrast, a play in which two teenagers fall in love and no one objects, in which the biggest dramas are the usual trivial tiffs one might expect in real life, is not a memorable story. In simple terms, they are not risking enough. Of course, this is not to say plays ought to be full of life-threatening scenarios. However, they ought to grow towards a climax where we feel the characters lives will be changed fundamentally by the outcomes.
In this exercise, we look at how to ensure your characters have enough to battle against to give them an engaging journey, and to make sure the audience are drawn in to the story.Find out more
Gas Ring – the game
A quick exercise to show the importance of writing high stakes for your characters when writing a play….Find out more
The sounds of your world
Writing audio drama is about identifying significant sound. You need to identify and create the sound world that…Find out more
It is all about the sound
Radio drama is all about the sound. Think sound before you think dialogue – the two are not…Find out more
Cut the fluff
There is, of course, no rule that says you should never write dialogue that looks exactly like real…Find out more
The imaginary grunt
Listen in to a real conversation that you are not involved in and note just how much extraneous…Find out more
Mark’s 3 top tips – Critical, forensic and persistent
Click on the video below to hear Mark’s top three writing tips…Find out more
What’s the worst that could happen?
Fiction is almost always about unexpected consequences. A character wants something, they take actions towards getting that thing,…Find out more
The 5 big mistakes people make when writing short stories
1. They waffle on like they’ve got all the pages in the world The stories that make the…Find out more
Developing a shooting script for your novel
You have an overall structure for your novel. You have already discovered your characters, key plot points, settings,…Find out more