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5 Tips for Writing Stage Plays as a Self-Publishing Author

Whether a self-publishing author is writing a one-act play for a community theater or a five-act play they hope is performed on Broadway, here are five tips to delight an audience.

1. Consider the Medium

Stage plays are different from novels, and self-publishing authors need to keep that in mind as they write up their stage plays. They should focus on showing character thoughts and motivations through dialogue and actions as much as possible. While plays do offer the option of monologue, the act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud or to the audience unheard by other characters,  overusing this device can bore an audience and make the story ineffective.

Instead of heavily relying on soliloquy, self-publishing authors should have their characters interact with other characters. They can share their thoughts with a close friend or over a drink to the bartender. A loved pet can also be a listener, creating a vehicle for the character to share their authentic selves while still being engaging.

Soliloquy should be used in rare moments to pack a punch, but stage plays should have most of their actions appearing before the viewers’ eyes through dialogue and interaction.

2. Limit Stage Directions

Stage play production involves actors, directors, lighting technicians, and other crew members to bring a script to life. Stage plays are a collaboration, and the self-publishing author needs to keep that in mind with their script. They don’t know precisely how a stage will be set up or what resources the theatrical group has to bring their story to life. While some characters’ actions are vital to the storytelling and should be included, experienced playwrights leave as much stage direction as possible open to the director and actors. If the actor entering stage right or stage left is irrelevant to the story, then simply instructing the character to enter is enough. Similarly, instructions on sounds and lighting that are vital to the story can be included, but anything left up to the theatre crew should be left out of the script.

3. Limit the Scope

When self-publishing authors are writing a stage play, they must consider the limitations of theatre. The larger the cast and the more settings a story has can limit which theatre companies have the resources for production. Playwrights should take a minimalist approach to their stage plays. Every character and setting should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, it should be removed.

Actors on a stage

4. Consider the Length

Actors giving live performances have limited energy. Modern audiences attending live performances have limited attention spans. Both of these are good reasons for self-publishing authors to be aware of the length of their scripts and keep plays manageable. As a rough average, one script page equals one minute on stage. This means that if a script is 120 pages long, it will be roughly two hours long.

While plenty of popular plays last three or more hours, keeping a play short should be a priority of the self-publishing author.

Longer plays take more resources to produce and may limit the number of theatres with the resources for production. On the other hand, a play that is too short may not meet the audience’s expectations.

Audience and actor ages should also be considered in length requirements. A play intended to be acted by and attended by children should run shorter than plays for adults.

5. Do a Table Read Before Self-Publishing

A table read is a valuable resource that allows self-publishing authors to hear their scripts performed by others. It will enable them to see if specific phrases are difficult for the actors to say or if the dialogue sounds unnatural when read aloud. For a playwright, the table read is a vital part of the editing process that should be completed before self-publishing the stage play. It is the last chahttps://www.instantpublisher.com/blog/5-tips-for-editing-your-novel-as-a-self-publishing-author/nce to find errors before the play goes to the production crew and becomes a collaborative effort.

InstantPublisher offers various custom printing services to authors of all kinds. Playwrights can use our short-run book printing services to create copies of their plays for the actors in their local theatre group or print hundreds of copies for countrywide distribution. Visit our website today and see how InstantPublisher can help you achieve your dreams.

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