How to Write a Play Script

Writing a play script is an idea and knowledge you should know as a writer. There is a notion that plays aren’t popular and they are no longer written but this is not true. In the present, there are plays still showing and getting large views as well. Theaters are still getting filled as people go to watch plays acted on stage. However, for people who are new to the game, how to write a play script is a great source of worry.

It is the play script that would guide the actors on stage what to do and say with the stage directions and dialogue. It is the play script that is turned to the drama the actors perform on stage.

The play script plays the same role movie script plays in movies. Thus, you should know that play script is of great importance, and in this post, we’ll be guiding you on how to write a play script.

What makes a Good Play Script? What is a good Play Script?

  • Basic Knowledge of Plot Development: This is the first idea you should have about how to write a play script. You should know the structure of a good plot and how it is developed. If you’re new to writing, then you should know that a plot has a beginning, middle and end. A plot is the arrangement of events of a story or drama.

It should have a starting point and rise steadily in action and conflict between the characters. Example of a plot starts with a boy who seeks to get admitted to study at Harvard but he has to deal with stiff competition and works extra hard to get in there (beginning). Then, he loses his mother who supports him more, and has to deal with his carefree Dad. Due to the crises in his life, he is rejected for not doing enough (climax). Then, he picks himself up and works extra hard until he gets admitted. His Dad begins to care (end). Most importantly, there should be intrigues in play scripts and acting of the drama.

In the plot narrated above, there is evidence of the basic structure of beginning, middle or climax, and the end. There is also evidence of the conflict the main character encounters. There are other characters. The plot is a triangular upward movement with a rise of tempo from the beginning to the climax. In writing a play script, once you get the plot structure right, you’ve gotten a good percentage of it right.

  • Good Theme or Storyline: You’ve to know that for you to write a good play script, you need to have a good storyline or theme. The message or content of the play should be something engaging to the audience and something they can connect to. Even if it is a strange theme or message for the audience, make it intriguing for the audience and develop the characters as such that they can relate.
  • Character Development: This one is very important. You should develop your characters very well in the way they talk, speak and move on stage. The characters should act like real people in the real world. You shouldn’t create characters who act strangely and don’t connect to the audience. Character development is very important in how to write a play script.
  • Good Dialogue: Dialogue is the conversation between characters in the play. Good and intriguing dialogue is another important element in a play script. The characters should converse naturally and there should be action in their conversation. It shouldn’t be a dull conversation; however, there should be only a very little raising of voice and more of emotions. A dialogue where the characters shout majority of the time is a bad dialogue and a bad play. Make the dialogue flow naturally with great display of emotions and good speaking skills.
  • Good Stage Directions: The stage directions in the play script should be good in the aspect that they should fit the dialogue and emotions to be displayed by the characters. Good stage directions in play scripts are as important as the dialogue because without good stage directions, the performance on stage won’t be good.
  • Action-driven Play: The play script should encapsulate a kind of drama which is action-driven. The dialogue, character development and stage directions should all lead to action in the play. The conflict or difficulties to be encountered by the characters in the play should connect and contribute to the actions of the play. No or poor actions in the play and drama would lead to a boring one for the audience when seeing the performance.

Now that you know the basic things and elements a play need, it’s time you know in details how to write a play script

How to Write a Play Script

  • In plays, there is the titling of different types in different areas in the play, which includes the title of the play, the title of the acts and scenes.
  • A play is divided into acts and scenes. A scene is a particular location an action between characters take place. A play might take place in different locations and these locations are different scenes. Meanwhile, an act is a combination of related scenes. The act tag is usually used to differentiate the beginning. middle and end parts of a play. For instance, a group of beginning scenes become Act 1.
  • In writing the play, the title comes first, then the names of the characters on another page, the list of acts and scenes before the play itself.
  • Each scene begins with the title of the scene on top, the stage directions next and then the characters names and their conversations.
  • You have to note that stage directions appears in several places in a scene. They can appear at the top or between conversations. When stage direction appear between conversation, they should be enclosed in brackets.
  • Then each scene should end with another stage direction while another scene begins on a different page.
  • If a different act comes up, it should be written as ACT 2 before going on with the different set of scenes in that act. For instance ACT 1 might have Scene 1, 2 and 3. ACT 2, too, might have Scene 1, 2 and 3, and it goes on and on.

You are new to writing a play script? Then follow this sample below to guide you as it is how a full scene is written.

Sample of a Play Script Scene on How to Write a Play Script


Scene 1

The sun is at the centre of the sky, hot and about to fall. The camera reveals a man walking along a village path. He has this face of a man in trouble. He walks slowly at one end of the road, his legs slightly brushing the bushes. He wears trousers and polo. He is in mid-fifties. While walking calmly away, he comes to meet another man dressed in a wrapper tied around his waist and a full-arm shirt.

EZE:         Mr Agbo, I was just on my way to your house to come and see you. Where are you going by this time of the day? I thought by this time you must have been done with whatever you have to do at the farm?

AGBO:  It is true, I am done with everything I am doing at the farm. Right now, there is an urgent appointment I am off to meet. How is family? I hope all is well?

EZE:          Yes, all is well. I was coming to your house to see you on something. It is a very important something that I would not want to waste time in talking with you.

AGBO:    Well, my appointment is not that late, we can still get to talk about it, perhaps, since you say the matter is urgent.

EZE:           Can we find somewhere safe to talk about it? Maybe, somewhere hidden and all that.

AGBO:     Yes, of course.

EZE:             Let us go to Mama Rita’s bar then. It is just for a short while and we will be done.

AGBO:     All right.

They walk along the path and speak little or nothing to each other as they do this. Jeff is leading the way, while Williams trail behind. Two minutes later, they come to a small house built with woods and rust corrugated roof. The small house is under a big pear tree. They walk close to the house, get in and take their seats. At that point, they are the only ones in the bar.

EZE:             Do you want to have something, Agbo?

AGBO:  No, you know I have an appointment and cannot wait to finish whatever would be served.

EZE:           (takes deep breath and hisses). It is my wife, Williams. In fact, it is my family, it is me, I am in pains, Agbo!

AGBO:    Take it easy, what could be wrong? What is wrong with you and your family?

EZE:             (inhales deeply, and exhales). I am dying, Agbo.

AGBO:     Isn’t it obvious that you aren’t dying? If you were dying, you would not be here talking to me. So, please, be plain, and tell me what is wrong with you and your family?

EZE:         (looks away from the direction of Agbo, towards the counter where the owner of the bar had come out from the back to stand. He lowers his voice now that Williams had to strain his ears to hear him). I need another child.

AGBO:     Is that all? You need a child? Is that the stuff that’s making you say you are dead?

EZE:            (turns his face to Agbo). Is it not enough to kill any man? (Pauses a little). Look at you, you have five children, four sons and a daughter. How would you know the pain I feel? If I die tomorrow, there is no son to bear my name, or take over the affairs of my family. I only have a daughter. It is not even two daughters, or three, it is just one.

AGBO:    It is not as if I don’t feel your pain, but you see, you said it is an urgent something, and I really expected something more important. This is a matter we could have discussed in a better place and at a better time …

EZE:             What are you trying to say in essence?

AGBO:  (inhales deeply). I think we should discuss this issue some other time. However, I would suggest you work things out with your wife. It is her you should be talking to first about this and not me.

EZE:           Agbo, how can you be sounding this way? You know my wife is no longer a baby. You of all people know that.

AGBO:   What do you want to do then?

EZE:            (pauses and looks away briefly). I want to marry another wife.

AGBO:    (shouts, perplexed). What? You want to do what?

EZE:           I need another wife, Agbo. I need a son. I am getting old too fast these days. I need someone to be able to stand in my stead. In the whole of this village, I think I am the only one with an heir.

AGBO:    Stop it, you know that is not true. You are not the only one in the entire village without an heir. Again, you seeking to get married to another wife is something I do not totally support. You could talk to your wife for you people to work something around it. She will definitely be against this your idea of getting a new wife. (Stands).

EZE:           Well, this is what I want. I know where your mind is going to. Adoption, right? I am not in for that.

AGBO:      I was not even trying to tell you to adopt. However, adoption is not a bad choice, too.  Just seek other alternatives that is not this marriage of a second wife. It is bad for you as a Christian. See, I have to go, I am late for my appointment.

EZE:           I will talk to her for her to see reasons, and if she does not, well, she has to agree. I am her husband.

AGBO:    Anything you say, Jeff. You have to be careful. I am off right now. (Begins to walk away). We will talk more on this later. (Exits).

EZE:          (broods for sometime, for over fifteen minutes, his right hand on his jaw). I will take a new wife. I will have to take a new wife whether Flora likes it or not. There is nothing she can do about it.

                                                        Light Fades


How to write a play script can be done if you know the right process and guidelines. It doesn’t take much to be able to effectively write a play script. A good play script is determinant on how good the dramatic performance of that play would be. Thus, make sure you deliver a good play script.

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