One act play writing prompts


  • Writing One Act Plays
  • 82 Creative Writing Prompts and Writing Exercises for Screenwriters
  • 101 Best Dialogue and Screenwriting Prompts
  • 400+ Writing Prompts: 16+ Genres to Start Your BEST Story
  • Writing One Act Plays

    Do the same-virtually — with my notes. Question the ones you feel most comfortable with. With these cut you can see more clearly what the play is IMHO. If you get stuck look at changing a no to a yes or vice versa and explore the consequences. Make sense to you? Could the first line of your play be a question? Could the last line of the play be a …? Let the characters say all the exposition, themes, everything they think and feel. Sarah Kane told me she did this for Blasted.

    Basic but no one tells you this! Think in minutes — after a thousand words, the audience are six minutes into the play. And so on. This has been the most popular note. Worth thinking: Who would anticipate the arrival of who in the opening of your next play?

    But it must be done. This note resonated with many. When I started to write plays I found this led only to scenes of characters arguing.

    When I tried writing deferred conflict, conflict avoided until it was the only thing possible I found this more productive 9: When writing your play learn to recognise the voices popping up in your head of those you want to impress, appease, defy.

    Thank them for their interest and then let them go. Worth training yourself to identify and let go of those other voices. Eg; Nash tries to blame Tiz, Tiz rejects the blame. Until one of the characters or a new character breaks the routine and a new routine is established.

    Try to explore the full possibilities of each routine before it breaks. This one I believe is a vital element. Many beginners avoid them by having lights up characters discovered, lights down characters still there and repeat.

    Early on I wrote a short farce as an exercise to teach myself exits and entrances. For most plays leaving and arriving, exits and entrances are key.

    Be kind to directors. This narrative becomes frozen and is no longer useful. It will push you to make these decisions. Vagueness may feel satisfyingly ambiguous but will soon lose momentum. You can make exposition more subtle in a later draft. This one sounds like it might lead to obvious writing but rather than obvious most people start a scene vague, hedging their bets and then the scene runs out of steam. They will tend to respond with ersatz performed emotions. Just commit to writing the dramatic action of the play and trust that engaging with that dramatic action will elicit real emotions.

    Other forms- the Hollywood blockbuster, lots of musicals — are clearer about the emotions they want to elicit. No disrespect — I love musicals. In a theatre play the characters primarily do this through active use of words. Sounds simple this but I keep on learning it.

    If the effort used is inappropriately big or small the effect is comic or melodramatic, both useful colours for your palette as a dramatist. The action of the scene is the negotiation of that repositioning.

    Same for an exit. This note is my greatest hit with the twittersphere. Or sometimes characters from the future doing the same. But characters from the past and future are in a play like The Cherry Orchard. Not just characters. What from the past exists in your play? How far back? What emerges in your play that points the way to the future? This can be used to shape of everything from a gesture or sentence through to the structure of a play. They ice the cake 2. They furiously ice the cake 3.

    They throw the cake out the window. Heavily prepared: everyone talks about the protagonist for first ten minutes. Most plays make use of both. Lots of things in your play will benefit from a set up. You can go back in your draft and put them in.

    But equally some things can drop with no set up. Try using both in a play. The first tends to create more claustrophobic domestic, the second more open epic. A good playwright will struggle with this, test it, challenge it. Shakespeare struggled with this problem in Hamlet. Always something to struggle with but worth constantly challenging. This is pretty much all you need to know!

    He tries persuading, shaming, bribing, alarming, soothing etc Dad. Give yourself regular practice writing shortcut Stan mini scenes. Who will be motivated to enter that space? How at ease will they feel there? Who will claim ownership of it? How will their relationship to it change? How will they transform it? When will they be ready to to leave it? True of a theatre building and the audience as well as the stage and the play?

    In rehearsals actors sometimes unconsciously put back in that little thing before a line. I try to discourage them! Alternating show and tell works well. Tell can be used alongside tell as long as the tell changes the listeners and the course of the action. In the course of a scene things better or worse, An act — things get substantially better or worse. The whole play — things get substantially, irreversibly better or worse. Like all these notes an attempt only. There are no rules!

    A play can be language: ebbing and flowing, contradicting, reconciling, finding balance and imbalance. Language speaking to itself. Lots of great plays do this. Not much. But enough. I normally have too much, cut it away. The characters in Hamlet resist being in a revenge tragedy, The Cherry Orchard cast resist being in a well made play about saving the estate, Waiting For Godot: a prepared entrance that never happens, an exit they never make.

    Heiner Mueller would take on an old play, inhabit it like a virus until it was transformed. Going through a draft I look at each line, rearrange words to achieve this. To demonstrate this Chekhov cited a gun, Mamet a knife. Could the gloves be used by another character later?

    Etc I find that the last page and the first page of a play are the ones I rewrite the most. There might be a few pages a third of the way in that remain the same as draft one. But identifying where the dramatic action begins and where it ends takes many many goes. If they do I find the scenes plateau. I have to feel with each line that they are pushing into the space or pushing out of it, drawing closer to another person or away.

    I call this the hidden kinetic dance! Read to the mid point.

    82 Creative Writing Prompts and Writing Exercises for Screenwriters

    Josh Fechter Updated on January 16th, There are many pieces that need to fit perfectly in order to produce high-quality screenwriting. We will focus on developing two crucial aspects in the screenwriting process, and those are the dialogue and setting the scene. A line has to be provocative enough to inspire a response, so the dialogue prompts bellow do exactly that — they guide you into character and plot development by using dialogue properly. In addition, the screenwriting prompts will give you a glimpse into a cinematic microcosm that you will need to transform into a cinematic macrocosm.

    Dialogue prompts Dialogue in movies, in theater plays, and in books should have a natural flow. Sometimes it can be deceptively simple, sometimes provocative, and sometimes very straightforward.

    Here you can find 40 dialogue prompts that can start the creative process. Think of situations in which a person might actually say these sentences. Then, try to come up with several possible responses. Different responses can give you the opportunity to explore the action in different genres.

    I need a way, not an excuse. Your voice. This was a mistake. I said it first. Is this your first time here? What are you reading? We need to come up with a new strategy. You should have come to the funeral. Mother was expecting you.

    She was very disappointed. You always say that you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but can you handle the truth? Imagine you were the master of the Universe. Is that all? I have. A million times.

    Every time I close my eyes before falling asleep. You will forget about our hugs and kisses because now… now you have no choice. Open your door and your heart. I miss seeing your face every morning. Keep your hands where I can feel them. If I wanted a stupid solution to a real problem, I would ask you. Please, I can explain! It looks more like a sacrifice. Were you careful? Did anyone follow you? A lot is at stake here! She is too precious for humanity not to do anything to save her, even if it means risking our own lives.

    Your wife has been in an accident. How could you do this to me? I thought you were dead! You let me grieve for so long! I kept thinking about all the thing I wanted to say to you, but never had the chance. Why are you doing this? Is my daughter okay?

    You pay more attention to the Persian rugs than you do to me. They are just things! But I do! When I get the chance, I would like to visit Dubrovnik. I was looking forward to our romantic evening.

    Why does this wine taste funny? Your source is dead. In a fake-news era, truth becomes an imperative. Doctor Jones, please come at once. I have never seen anything like this. How long have we known each other? I would never betray your trust!

    I only wanted to scare him! Screenwriting prompts These prompts assist potential writers to get inspired and try their hand at writing different genres. Being versatile as a screenwriter is important for perfecting the craft. The following prompts set particular scenes, characters, and situations, but it is your inventiveness that will bring these scenes to life. Think about your favorite film. Change the ending. A dead body is the library floor.

    The window is wide open and a breeze is moving the curtains. The globe is broken next to the body. A copy of the Bible is placed on the back of the body. A woman sits on the edge of a bridge. A man slowly approaches her and talks to her in a low and soothing voice.

    She responds to his attempt to establish communication. They start talking, and the woman starts crying. He helps her get up. Two male characters enter a seemingly deserted building. Shortly after the building explodes. The two characters are seen fleeing the crime scene.

    A pilot gets into a futuristic aircraft and leaves many worried faces on the ground. A group of actors rehearse on a theater stage. He jumps on the stage and starts giving directions to the lead actor. He advises him not to use elaborate gesticulations while acting and be more subtle. Two main characters from two different movies meet and have a conversation that leads to one character killing the other one. In an apocalyptic world building and cars are left empty and only a handful of pregnant women are roaming the empty streets frightened and deteriorated.

    A person is in his study. The shelves are stacked with books, old maps, and globes. The person is writing on a parchment using his quill. He seems apprehensive. He takes a small knife he uses for opening his letters and he runs the tip of the blade through the candle flame.

    Then, he makes a small cut and a few blood drops fall on the table. He dips the quill in the blood and as he gets prepared to sign his name at the bottom of the page, black letters spontaneously appear on his arm. Three people are riding the elevator when it suddenly stops. One of the people starts panicking as she is claustrophobic. The other person calms her down, while the third one tries to find some help. It becomes obvious that they would spend some time together stuck on the 11th floor.

    They start talking, when the woman who is afraid of closed spaces discovers the identity of one of the people there. A dinner scene. A large dining table, with different kinds of food and expensive cutlery. The guests are well-dressed and well-rehearsed in etiquette. A senior member of the family announces a change in his will. Everybody on the table is horrified. Things get heated, and then the husband confesses to having multiple affairs.

    Suddenly both of them stop talking.

    No one else seems to notice, except for one man waiting for the bus. You both make eye contact. You wake up in a world where you can purchase emotions. You meet a dragon in the woods. More Creative Writing Exercises Romance writing prompts Of course, the character writing prompts and dialogue prompts can work especially well for romance stories. But I want to give a few more options for what to consider when writing a love story.

    And these prompts in of themselves, have been used forever. But the way to avoid cliches is in your specificity of character and uniqueness in story. The more specific you get, the more unique, and yet, universal your story will be. A couple is vying for the same job opening. Two people in an arranged marriage eventually fall in love.

    A student graduates and he and his former teacher run into each other at a bar. It goes a little too well. A doctor is falling in love with her recent fling. They decide to get serious and shortly after he is accused of murder. A tourist travels to another country and falls in love with a local. A toxic relationship kills a romance and pushes the protagonist away. The main character leaves and gets involved with someone new.

    Two friends who know everything about each other start dating. Was this a bad idea? Two people in love can never make it work. Opposing politicians hide their romance. A psychic and a scientist meet on a blind date. Overcome doubting your morals and beliefs.

    Write about how morals and values shape happiness in life. The importance of matching morals and values in relationships.

    101 Best Dialogue and Screenwriting Prompts

    Write about how to share your morals with others. Open discussion on ways in which one can develop new morals and values. Write about how our morals and values change as we grow up. Society is starting to focus on health and well-being more so than many other important life ventures and now is the time to write about it!

    Here are 25 Health and Wellness Writing Prompts: Your struggle with an addiction of some kind and how you overcame it. Write a book about your journey to become healthy. What being healthy inside and out means to you.

    How others can overcome unhealthy habits. Create a book about the importance of mental health and wellness. Write about how to form healthy habits. How to find the best exercise type for your needs. A book about the idea of self-care and what it means to you. How to find health through personal reflection. How others can affect your health. Write about the impact of mental health on your physical health.

    What it means to have overall life wellness. The impact of who you surround yourself with on your mental health. How learning can impact your health. Dietary needs and how they affect your mental health.

    Write about how to break unhealthy habits that drag you down. How negativity can greatly impact your health. Write about your ideal health and wellness system for long-term success.

    A time when you had to overcome super unhealthy ways. How professional athletes approach health and wellness. Societal standards of health and wellness. Tips for Expanding on Health and Wellness Writing Prompts: Always use facts and research with something as sensitive as health Talk about what has worked for you personally and why Feature advice from experts in the field Include actionable steps others can learn from Writing Prompts about Love and Relationships This can be a tricky topic to write about because love is different for everyone.

    That being said, keeping your message broad enough to impact a lot of people while also hitting specific key points can make it easier. How to enjoy your relationship in every phase of life. Your idea of a successful relationship. What it really takes to have a successful relationship. Write about how your friendships play a part in your relationships. How self-doubt can affect your search for love. Write about how to love someone else in a way they need.

    How to find what you truly enjoy in a life partner. Becoming open-minded in your pursuit of love. The importance of loving yourself before loving someone else. Write about a time you thought you found love but were very wrong. How finding love has changed the way you care for others. How to develop healthy and nurturing relationships.

    Friendships and how they play a role in your happiness. Creating relationships that lift you up and not drag you down. Write about what it means to truly love unconditionally. How intimacy can help your self-esteem. Ways in which you can improve your sex life. Write about ways in which you can improve your romantic relationship.

    Ways in which you can improve your platonic relationships. Loving yourself and what that fully means. Building strong relationship foundations in a family. Write about how to communicate in relationships. That means everyone can relate to being a child and having a family. Family about what they mean to you.

    Your parents and what they taught you. Write about how not having parents impacted your life. Your childhood and how it shaped you. Write about what the definition of family truly means to you. Finding family in the least expected places. Discovering who you are within your family. How your childhood friends affected your adult life. Whether or not your family can truly impact who you are as an adult. How to have healthy communication in your family.

    Trials and tribulations of a blended family. Your journey as an adopted child. Write about whether or not emotional closeness with family affects your life. Your vision as a child and whether or not you lived up to it. Write about childhood pains that have followed you into adulthood. How to let go of a crappy childhood to find happiness as an adult.

    Write about letting go of toxic family members to find happiness. We all have very different ideas about what true happiness is and how it comes about. What you have to remember, though, is that everybody wants to be happy. Here are 26 Writing Prompts about Happiness: Write about the idea of wants versus needs in life.

    Work and finding happiness in your career. Not being happy in your career and how to conquer it. Write about finding success in your career.

    Finding success in every aspect of your life. Building a successful love life, family life, and career. Write about balancing a career and family life. Being open-minded in life. Write about what rewards you can reap from being kind. What you can gain from being open-minded in every aspect of life. Goals in life and how to accomplish them.

    What living a happy life is defined as according to you. Write about a time you had very little happiness and how you found it again.

    The ups and downs of life and how to get through them.

    400+ Writing Prompts: 16+ Genres to Start Your BEST Story

    What truly contributes to happiness in life. Write about the true measures of happiness in life. How success ties into happiness and how to define them separately. The difference between how you view happiness now versus when you were a kid.

    The biggest life lessons one can learn through finding happiness. What people should focus on instead of happiness in life. The difference between self-fulfillment and happiness. The idea of NOT looking for happiness in order to find it. How self-reflection can increase happiness. What you expected happiness to be versus how it truly is. How to include the people in your life when finding happiness. Yes, even Beyonce has felt down about herself occasionally though probably not often!

    The point is, writing about a lack of self-esteem and how to gain it is something everyone has experienced and therefore, everyone can relate to. Screenwriting prompts These prompts assist potential writers to get inspired and try their hand at writing different genres. Being versatile as a screenwriter is important for perfecting the craft. The following prompts set particular scenes, characters, and situations, but it is your inventiveness that will bring these scenes to life.

    Think about your favorite film. Change the ending. A dead body is the library floor. The window is wide open and a breeze is moving the curtains. The globe is broken next to the body. A copy of the Bible is placed on the back of the body. A woman sits on the edge of a bridge. A man slowly approaches her and talks to her in a low and soothing voice. She responds to his attempt to establish communication.

    They start talking, and the woman starts crying. He helps her get up. Two male characters enter a seemingly deserted building. Shortly after the building explodes. The two characters are seen fleeing the crime scene.

    A pilot gets into a futuristic aircraft and leaves many worried faces on the ground. A group pigeon chest pug puppy actors rehearse on a theater stage.

    He jumps on the stage and starts giving directions to the lead actor. He advises him not to use elaborate gesticulations while acting and be more subtle. Two main characters from two different movies meet and have a conversation that leads to one character killing the other one. In an apocalyptic world building and cars are left empty and only a handful of pregnant women are roaming the empty streets frightened and deteriorated.

    A person is in his study. The shelves are stacked with books, old maps, and globes. The person is writing on a parchment using his quill.

    He seems apprehensive. He takes a small knife he uses for opening his letters and he runs the tip of the blade through the candle flame.

    Then, he makes a small cut and a few blood drops fall on the table. He dips the quill in the blood and as he gets prepared to sign his name at the bottom of the page, black letters spontaneously appear on his arm. Three people are riding the elevator when it suddenly stops. One of the people starts panicking as she is claustrophobic. The other person calms her down, while the third one tries to find some help. It becomes obvious that they would spend some time together stuck on the 11th floor.

    They start talking, when the woman who is afraid of closed spaces discovers the identity of one of the people there. A dinner scene. A large dining table, with different kinds of food and expensive cutlery. The guests are well-dressed and well-rehearsed in etiquette. A senior member of the family announces a change in his will. Everybody on the table is horrified. Things get heated, and then the husband confesses to having multiple affairs. Suddenly both of them stop talking. There is heavy silence between the two spouses.

    A person who claims to be innocent is interrogated by two detectives in an interrogation room. A man is talking on the phone when a truck crashes into him, causing the car to fall into the abyss. A person packs her belongings into card boxes because she plans to move into a new apartment.

    She finds a photo of her and her best friend. A moment of happiness on her face is quickly substituted for a sad, nostalgic smile. A woman is swimming in a pool when suddenly a man in a wet suit attacks her and pulls her down. She is fighting for her life, but the man manages to overpower her completely. A helicopter is hovering above a snowy mountain top where some hikers got lost.

    Terrorists threaten with a bomb unless their demands are met. A young student gets a scholarship to study at Harvard. A trial scene. The setting is a courtroom. The defense attorney is cross-examining the witness. The scene is emotional because the attorney manages to get the truth from the witness that exonerates her client.


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