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WOC 273 Writing Plays

Teacher Tips and Answers


WOC 273

Director of a Play



Page 273

Writing Plays

You can play all kinds of things: music, games, sports, and even characters (in theater). All of these ways to play carry a theme of fun. In fact, the Middle Dutch root of play is pleien, which means, “Leap and dance for joy.” So, whether you are acting in skits with your friends or watching a serious sword fight in Romeo and Juliet, remember to have fun!

This chapter shows you how to write your own play. When you finish, you can publish your work by gathering friends to put on a show!

What’s Ahead

WOC 274

Page 274


Jon Roberts turned his story “Opposite Day” (see pages 266–267) into a play. Part of the play follows.

Opposite Day

WOC 275

Page 275

Writing Guidelines

Prewriting ■ Selecting a Topic and Gathering Details

Dramatize an existing story or create a new one. One student filled out the following plot chart to develop a new play.

Plot Chart

Plot Chart

A Closer Look at Stage Direction

You can use the following terms in your stage direction.

Stage Diagram

WOC 276

Page 276

Writing ■ Developing Your Play

Beginning Introduce your characters, establish the setting (time and place), and begin the conflict. Note how the play on page 274 does all of this by the time Mr. Cross speaks his first line. Remember your tools:

  • Dialogue and action reveal your characters’ personalities and desires.
  • Costumes, props, and sets help establish the setting.
  • Conflict is a problem the character faces and must overcome.

Middle Develop the conflict through a series of actions. Each action should intensify the problem or, at least, create greater risk for the character. Build the tension to a climactic point when the main character either succeeds or fails.

Ending Show what happens after the climax, indicating how the main character has changed in one way or another. End with a surprising or thoughtful resolution.

Revising ■ and Editing ■ Improving Your Play

Use the following checklist to revise and edit your play.

_____ Ideas

  • Do I have interesting characters and a strong conflict?
  • Do I use dialogue and action to move the play along?

_____ Organization

  • Does my beginning introduce the characters, setting, and conflict?
  • Does my middle build the conflict toward the climax?
  • Does my ending show how the character has changed?

_____ Voice

  • Does my dialogue fit the characters’ personalities?

_____ Word Choice

  • Does my stage direction use the appropriate terms?

_____ Sentences

  • Does my dialogue sound natural and conversational?

_____ Conventions

  • Does my play follow the proper format? (See page 274.)
  • Have I checked my capitalization, punctuation, and spelling?
  • Does my grammar reflect the way people actually talk?

Teacher Support:

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Lesson Plan Resources:

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Vocabulary List:
  • play: story written to be acted out in front of an audience

Vocabulary List:
  • plot chart: graphic that lists the characters and setting of a play along with events through the rising action, climax, and resolution

  • stage direction: instructions telling actors where to move onstage

Vocabulary List:
  • dialogue: what characters say in a play

  • action: what characters do in a play

  • costumes: what actors wear to assume different identities onstage

  • props: objects that actors use onstage to tell stories, short for properties

  • sets: backgrounds and structures that suggest different locations within a play

  • conflict: problem a character must overcome, whether inner thoughts, other characters, society, natural forces, or supernatural forces

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