How Difficult Is It To Write A Play?

by Randy Murray on July 30, 2012

Basic answer: not difficult at all. A two hour play is just 120 pages of thinly populated text.

More complete answer: Very difficult. In the most basic sense of playwrighting you only have dialog, things that an actor can say, to tell the story. You can add all the scene descriptions and suggested actions that you want, but in the end all you really have are words that someone can say. And if you don’t want every character to sound exactly alike, you’ll need to write each with a distinct voice. That’s more difficult than you think.

Answering the right question: How difficult is it to write a GOOD play? Damned difficult. Writing a play isn’t just the process of setting the words down on the page. They have to be tested with a reading, then rewritten. Then you have to have a staged production and rewrite while that’s happening. Then you rewrite again.

It takes me years to write a play. I have what I consider to be just one good one. I’m working on another that has the potential to be very good. In 1599 Shakespeare wrote four plays: Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet.

Shakespeare wasn’t a genius. He was a god.

The How Difficult Is It To Write A Play? by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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