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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

I feel like playwriting is one of those types of writing that almost everyone has heard of, but most people don’t know where to start. With more strict structure requirements and a basis almost completely on dialogue, playwriting has some unique challenges that will make you a better writer. Here’s a guide for getting started with playwriting.


The preferred structure of plays usually depends on where the work is being submitted to. If you ever want to get your work performed, you need to follow some sort of guidelines. The ones I’ve most commonly seen are (keep in mind that since this is on a website, it doesn’t look exactly right):





                        (A moment of tense silence.)

The lines should be single-spaced (be sure to go into settings and make sure the after spacing is 0, especially if you use Word—the after spacing usually defaults to something weird), and there should be an enter space between each line. Names of characters should be in all caps and tabbed four times inward. Stage directions should be in parentheses and tabbed two times inward.


Playwriting is a great way to practice your dialogue skills. As a general rule of thumb, all dialogue should give you information about the character in some way. If you have this character-focused mindset instead of a setting-focused mindset, you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap that is exposition (if you say that dialogue should give you information about the world, it’s easy to just give long, unnatural info dumps).

Don’t Try to Include it All

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning playwrights fall into is that they try to control too much of the play. Fiction writing teaches you that every detail should be spelled out, but in playwriting, every action doesn’t need to be a stage direction. In fact, only really important actions should be included in stage directions, otherwise, it impedes the actors’ creativity and can get irritating.

I hope this gives you a good foundation for starting your own play. Now, get out there and write!

Madison Milligan is a senior at TCU and a writing, psychology, and Spanish triple major. She's passionate about fantasy, piano, art, writing, learning languages, and putting an end to psychological stigma.