The Playwright's Guidebook: An Insightful Primer on the Art of Dramatic Writing

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Macmillan, Mar 29, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 374 pages
4 Reviews

An accessible, contemporary guide to the art of dramatic writing

During the ten years that Stuart Spencer has taught playwriting, he has struggled to find an effective playwriting handbook for his courses. Although most of the currently popular handbooks have good ideas in them, they all suffer from the same problems: they're poorly organized; are composed mostly of quirky, idiosyncratic advice on how specific playwrights have gone about writing their own work; and are full of abstract theorizing on the nature of art. As a result, they fail to offer any concrete information on how to construct a well-written play or any useful guidelines and exercises. Moreover, few of these books are actually written by working playwrights. Out of frustration, Spencer wrote his own book. The result, The Playwright's Guidebook, is a clear, concise, and engaging handbook. Spencer addresses the important principles of structure, includes insightful writing exercises that build upon one another, explores the creative process, and troubleshoots recurrent problems that playwrights actually face.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

A very solid, well-written text to help the beginning playwright - or even the playwright who just wants to hone their craft a bit. Overall, it's easy to read, the exercises are helpful, and he doesn ... Read full review

The playwright's guidebook

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Spencer has written many plays (Resident Alien is his most recent) and has taught playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College for the last ten years. Frustrated by not being able to find a playwriting ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

THE TOOLS
21
WHAT IS STRUCTURE?
24
ACTION
35
THE ACTION SCENE
47
MOTIVATION AND SUBTEXT
48
CONFLICT
57
THE CONFLICT SCENE
72
HIGH STAKES AND HIGH HOPES
73
THE JOURNEY OF THE PLAY
204
EXERCISE 8
219
REWRITING
223
EXERCISE 9
247
EXPOSITION
249
EXERCISE 10
264
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS THINGS TO TRY WHEN YOURE STUCK
265
GENERAL ADVICE
287

EVENT
84
THE EVENT SCENE
95
BEATS SCENES ACTS
96
THE BEAT SCENE
107
DRAMATIC ELEMENTS
111
THEATER AND DRAMA
114
EXERCISE 5
125
THE IMPULSE
126
WRITING FROM AN IMAGE
138
CHARACTER
170
EXERCISE 7
202
EXERCISE 11
295
PRACTICAL ADVICE
296
REQUIRED READING
323
RECOMMENDED READING
324
ADDITIONAL IMAGES
331
EXTENDED EXERCISES
359
GLOSSARY
361
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
365
INDEX
367
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Stuart Spencer's most recent play, Resident Alien, has been produced around the country and been optioned for film. He teaches playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College.

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