The Playwrights Forum Home 
 

SEARCH STAGEPLAYS.COM
THE WORLD'S LARGEST PLAY DATABASE

  STAGEPLAYS BOOKSHOP NEW CYBERPRESS PLAYS PLAYWRIGHTING BOOKS PUBLISH MY PLAY AFFILIATE PROGRAM THE THEATRE BANNER EXCHANGE  
The Playwrights Forum > General > Question & Answer > Favorite guides?

* STAGEPLAYS WANTS TO PUBLISH YOUR PLAY *
click here for details

 Moderated by: Paddy, Edd
New Topic Reply Printer Friendly
Favorite guides?  Rating:  Rating
AuthorPost
 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 01:48 am
  PM Quote Reply
1st Post
RTurco
Member


Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 256
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
Hey gang,

Just asking, and I know that many of you are opposed to this notion, what playwriting guide would you recommend to a not-so beginning playwright? I've heard good things about "Backwards and Forwards" and "Story". Always looking to gain new insight on the craft.

Cheers,

RTurco

Back To Top PM Quote Reply  

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 03:02 am
  PM Quote Reply
2nd Post
in media res
Moderator
 

Joined: Sun Jul 2nd, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 1922
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
The ones you mention are terrific.

"The Elements of Playwriting" by Louis E. Catron I love this one. No horses hit.

"How to Write a Play" by Raymond Hull (Out of print.) Maybe find it on alibis.com (Used book site.) No horse shit.

"Finishing the Hat" by Stephen Sondheim. Not your usual layout on the page, but great advice from a master on his career. Expensive. maybe can find it on alibis.com

And reading "Act One" Moss Hart's Autobiography could not hurt.

David Mamet has some very good good essays in collections.

There are many good ones out there.

If you read some good books on Directing, it will help as well.

Also, read good plays and bad plays and mediocre plays to compare and go to theatre. Find out what moves you.

best,

IMR

P.S. Why would anyone be opposed to learning and broadening their scope of knowledge??

Back To Top PM Quote Reply

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 03:09 am
  PM Quote Reply
3rd Post
RTurco
Member


Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 256
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
I remember others having posted earlier on this site rebuking the idea that they had to be "taught" or instructed to write plays. Basically, asserting that playwriting is innate in the few and can be polished only in writing.

But I'll check out those books. Thanks. What about "The Playwright's Guidebook" by Stuart Spencer?

RTurco

Back To Top PM Quote Reply  

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 03:21 pm
  PM Quote Reply
4th Post
in media res
Moderator
 

Joined: Sun Jul 2nd, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 1922
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
This is form a previous post for 2007 I dug up:

A rule says, "You must do it this way." A principle says, "This works...and has through all remembered time." The difference is crucial. Your work needn't be modelled after the well-made play; rather it must be well made within the principles that shape out art. Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form."

From Robert McKee's book and workshop, "Story."

Also, from Gore Vidal: "Don't worry about becoming a great writer. Just try to become a good writer."

Also, one of my mentor's once said, "Some writer's knew 10 books well and based their writing on learning those 10 books well. Others read thousands of books and were no better writers. you just have to know who you are."

David Cromer, the director who just won one of those MacArthur "Genius" grants said he based his entire career on Bennet Cerf's collection of twelve great plays.

One can either have a breadth of knowledge or a depth of knowledge; or one can have both. It makes no difference. If you want to know more, you will seek it. if you don't want to know more, you won't.

Add to the list Aristotle's "The Poetics." it is the grand parent of all.

best,

in media res

Back To Top PM Quote Reply

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 03:33 pm
  PM Quote Reply
5th Post
Doug B
Member


Joined: Thu May 20th, 2010
Location: Eastsound, Washington USA
Posts: 94
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
I've read most of the books IMR suggests. I have over a dozen books on play writing on my shelf. Some of them are "cookbooks": Do "A" then do "B" then "C" and so on and you'll have a great play. Others are philosophical in approach, still others are collections of interviews with successful playwrights.

If there was a single "right" way to write a play, we'd need just one book. Every book on my shelf, presents a different approach to writing a play. Even where there is agreement between writers, there is seldom agreement on what to call it. Everyone seems to agree that plays are about conflict but there is less agreement on what that means.

That said, my all time favorite is "The Art and Craft of Play Writing" By Jeffrey Hatcher. His approach resonates with my approach to writing a play.

On your last post: You have to learn how to write a play - you have to understand how the various elements of a play come together to have a coherent story. (You can be taught to "Show not Tell" or you can write enough unsuccessful plays to discover that yourself.)

I think learning from others shortens the process.

Once you have learned the rules, you can break them to tell a specific story.

Creativity is different. I don't think creativity can be taught. It can be honed or sharpened but it is an individual skill. Some people are unbelievably creative, most are far less creative.

Just my thoughts.

Doug

Back To Top PM Quote Reply  

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 04:59 pm
  PM Quote Reply
6th Post
in media res
Moderator
 

Joined: Sun Jul 2nd, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 1922
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
I will also add a link my favorite single article about writing in general.

Michael Ventura's site is being reconstructed, but I found it on another site and it is used with Mr. Ventura's permission on that site.

Just sent it to a well-published novelist because she felt was kind of stuck. I thought I might incur her wrath or something. She agreed it was the best single article about writing she ever read.

It was originally published in LA Weekly newspaper in early 1990's if I remember correctly.

i had posted it a couple of times before.

THE TALENT OF THE ROOM

http://kelleyeskridge.com/other-things/the-talent-of-the-room/

best,

IMR

Back To Top PM Quote Reply

 Posted: Fri Oct 26th, 2012 06:30 pm
  PM Quote Reply
7th Post
RTurco
Member


Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 256
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 
Yes, I remember having read that article. And as I recall it was a very good read indeed.

And Doug I agree with your bit on creativity being innate. And I'll check out that book by Hatcher.

All the best to you,

RTurco

Back To Top PM Quote Reply  

Current time is 11:29 am  
The Playwrights Forum > General > Question & Answer > Favorite guides? Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2011 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.1626 seconds (21% database + 79% PHP). 27 queries executed.