REPOST- On Structure

There is no right way or wrong way to structure your writing and no plan you have to follow. The chair of our judges in 2008, the actor and director Richard Wilson said:

“You can make a play out of everyday life in a sense, if your observation is acute enough. You don’t have to know how to structure a play, there doesn’t have to be a beginning, a middle and an end necessarily.”


Here’s a useful set of questions you might want to ask yourself when thinking about how you have told your story:

1) What changes through the course of my play or during this scene?

Even if you know the answer to this, make sure it’s clear to an audience as well.

2) Does my dialogue move the action forward, or deepen an audience’s understanding of a character or a situation?

Be on the look out for areas of the script that become conversational and don’t engage an audience in some way.

3) Where’s the present tense action in what I’ve written?

Think about how much your audience is exposed to events, situations and relationships changing through the action you show on stage.

4) Does each character have a clear journey through the story?

Do things change for each character in the course of the play, even if that change is small or slight?

5) Do my scenes or does the story as a whole start and end at the right points?

Make sure that the time span of a scene or of the play as a whole reflects and focuses on what really interests you and not just where the good lines or moments might be.

6) Do I explain situations and information clearly for an audience?

You know the story, but make sure you don’t assume information an audience need to find out.

7) Is there a physical life to my scenes?

You don’t need to tell us every move that your characters make, but as yourself whether there’s the potential for a physical life to the scene in addition to the dialogue.

8) Does too much of my plot happen in one section of the play (a scene, towards the beginning, middle or end)?

9) Are my characters telling the audience or stating how they feel too much?

This depends on the way in which you write, but make sure characters aren’t stating things you want your audience to discover through observing their behaviour.

10) Where might my audience get bored?

“There’s only one commandment worth a damn, and it’s this: THOU SHALT NOT BORE” Anthony Neilson


Published on:
14 Mar 2019


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