How To Write A Better Theatre Script

How To Write A Better Theatre Script

Writing a short story, an article, an essay, or a theatre script all require the correct approach. Attempting to write a script in the same fashion as a short story will, inevitably, give poor results. Although the core of each medium is similar, key factors require that a very different tone and style be adopted.

Here are a few key factors to take into account that will, if used correctly, result in a far better theatre script.

The Stage Is A Universe

Some get caught up in the idea that a stage must be a single location. After all, where else can you possibly go, given the limitations? The answer is; anywhere – there are no rules. A stage can easily be any location you can dream of, and will transform into any number of new spaces with just a bit of smart writing.

But, it is also incredibly important to take into account how your locations are going to be presented in the production itself. Writing in constant, massive set changes frequently can, and most likely will, result in a confused production. Carefully considering how the production will play out, taking into account location changes and how they will be handled, is the right approach. 

It’s All About Dialogue

Theatre is largely based on the quality of dialogue. Dialogue is, for all intents and purposes, the glue that holds a production together. Therefore, writing distinct, interesting characters, and having them interact with one another in exciting ways, should always be the focus. Set changes, props, and all other aspects should come secondary to the characters, and how they are written.

Remember that natural, flowing dialogue is always best. Boring laboured dialogue that serves no other purpose than to push the plot forward will bore the audience, and soon have them choosing on their phones instead. 

Show, Don’t Tell

You’ve likely heard the phrase ‘show, don’t tell’ before, but what does it really mean? It means that your characters should be considered as if they were living in their own world. The events that happen in this world are simply being observed by the audience. If dialogue is written to spell out a story for the audience, it will come across as forced and unnatural.

Try and work key plot points naturally into the dialogue, and let the story tell itself. The best writers will be able to do this so convincingly that the audience never feels as if they are being fed a plot.

Get Actor Feedback

Lastly; once actors have their scripts, absolutely allow them to change and adjust lines as they see fit. An actor must feel comfortable with their lines, and will generally feel the most comfortable if they have changed words to fit their personal preference. As long as the story and characters remain intact, there will be no problems with these adjustments.


Allow every actor involved to personalise their script during the rehearsal process. In fact, actors should be encouraged to do so.