Writing Plays: A Short Course for Beginners

This short course is designed for those who would like to start writing fictional plays but don't know how to get started. It's also a great course for those who have experience but wish to brush up on their techniques and knowledge. 

We will lead you through the important aspects of genre, character, setting and structure and provide you with exercises and guidance to enable you to develop your skills as playwright.

This course has been designed and produced by Worcester Repertory Company in conjunction with our expert contributors including playwrights, lecturers, dramaturges and educational specialists. 


By the end of this course you should be able to;

  • Identify your strengths as a potential playwright. 
  • Understand the basic terminology of playwriting.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the principles of playwriting. 
  • Understand the structure of different types of plays. 
  • Plot and begin to write scenes that can then be developed into a play-script. 


1. Introduction & Rules of Writing Plays

Welcome to the course. During your first lesson we'll look at what you'll need and how the course will work, and get you started on some tasks to start your journey as a playwright. 

2. The Structure of Plays

In this lesson you'll learn about the form and structure of plays and how to craft a story that an audience can relate to. 

3. The Genre of Plays

Genre is a vast subject but in this lesson we'll help you navigate some of the everyday pitfalls that first-time writers fall in to. Genre contributes to the writing of plays and how to use it to influence your plots, characters, settings and structures, so it's important to get it right. 

4. Setting

The setting of a play is hugely important to the reality of bringing a story to life on the stage. Characters and genre can be informed by a setting and what is presented to an audience and surrounds the characters can have a profound effect on the story you are telling. You'll learn how to craft a realistic setting for your play and characters and where to find your inspiration. 

5. Characters

Characters are essential for building drama and tension within your play. You'll learn about the difference between rounded and flat characters and the 'breadcrumbs' you need to leave for your directors and actors. 

6. Dialogue

Once the characters, setting, genre and structure are in place, it's time to talk! Dialogue brings a play to life and the way in which it is written will inform how an actor or director interprets the character's voices.

7. Conclusion and Going Forward

Bringing all your new knowledge together which will culminate in one final task. You'll be lead through a creative process which will help you write a piece of theatre for two characters. 

Going forward you'll be looking to explore your potential as a playwright. This lesson will give you tips, tricks, advice, and guidance on the next stages of your development. 


This course can be completed in approximately 6 - 10 hours. This includes independent working time. 

Table of Contents

Introduction & Rules of Writing Plays
The Structure of Plays
Final Thoughts and Tasks

Frequently Asked Questions

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