TWELVE RULES FOR THE ASPIRING PLAYWRIGHT
1) NO EXPOSITION! Just jump into your story. This presents a puzzle for the audience to unravel and allows them to play with you. Remember—we are fascinated by the unknown!
2) EVERY DETAIL MUST RELATE TO THE ACTION OF THE PLAY. You’ve got ten minutes—there’s no time for anything extraneous. Nothing is random. (Although at first it may appear to be so!) If you are writing a play about dogs, the curtain goes up, and there on the stage is a bone.
3) KNOW WHAT YOUR PLAY IS ABOUT AND WRITE INTO THE METAPHOR. More than anything else, this will give your play a sense of unity.
4) A CHARACTER SPEAKS TO GET WHAT HE WANTS. All characters have DREAMS. These dreams are what make him unique. How are they fulfilled? How are they not fulfilled? How do they turn in on themselves?
5) A CHARACTER SHOULD BE OFF-BALANCE IN SOME WAY. Real characters are excessive in some areas. Deficient in others. If there is no disparity between what your characters are saying and what they are doing, you probably aren’t writing theatre.
6) DON’T WASTE TIME TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING YOU CAN SHOW. Images are more powerful than words!
7) EVERY GREAT PLAY HAS A POINT OF NO RETURN. The protagonist crosses the line. Now there is no turning back!
8) NEVER LET YOUR CHARACTERS OFF TOO EASY! If you do, what they’ve just been through won’t have meant anything. They may escape with their lives—but just barely!
9) EVERY PROTAGONIST MUST HAVE A JOURNEY. He should end up someplace radically different from where he began. BIG THINGS HAPPEN—not everyday life with endless pouring of coffee and lighting of cigarettes. LIFE-ALTERING EVENTS. If your protagonist ends up in the same place he started, he must go through Hell and back to get there.
10) FIND WHAT IS UNIVERSAL IN YOUR SCRIPT. These are windows that allow us to enter your world. Fuck Brecht! We want to relate!
11) REMEMBER THAT THE CLIMAX IS WHERE A PLAY WINS OR LOSES! The audience is rewarded for their attention. (The big pay-off!) The test of a great play is SELF DISCOVERY.
12) EVERY DETAIL COMES TOGETHER IN THE END. (See Rule #2) Somehow or another, we come back to that bone. Always pay off the bone!