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How to set out a play script

A script is a piece of writing in the form of drama. Drama is different from prose forms of writing like novels and short stories because it is intended to be performed, either on stage, radio, television or film. This means that it has to sound effective when it is read out loud. It also means that it has to be written in a special form.This section will deal mainly with writing a script for the stage. There will be a brief section at the end with some pointers for writing a radio script or a screenplay.

A script consists of -

  • dialogue - what the characters say, and
  • stage directions - instructions to the actors and director.

Here is an example of an extract from a play script. Look at it carefully and note the special layout.

The Bully

Scene: A school playground

Characters: JIM, a first year-pupil

EDDIE, a second-year pupil

(JIM is looking through his bag. EDDIE comes up and pushes him.)

JIM: (angrily) What do you think you're doing?

EDDIE: Oh,sorry, did I hurt you? I was just wondering what you had in that bag.

JIM: What's it to do with you?

EDDIE: I forgot my dinner money today. And I'm hungry.

(EDDIE grabs JIM's lunch and runs off.)

JIM: Hey you, come back!

(Enter the JANITOR.)

JANITOR: What's wrong, son?

Notice the following features of the layout of a play script -

  • Title
  • Scene: say where and when the scene is set
  • Characters: say which characters are in the scene at the start. You should give any information that we need to know about them but keep this brief. This might be their age, occupation or relationship with another character.

For example -

Jean, aged 24

Elizabeth, aged 55, mother of Jean

Bill, a plumber

Any characters who come into a scene after the start of it should be introduced by 'Enter'. Use 'Exit' if the character leaves.

The name of the character who is speaking should be written at the left-hand side of the page (in the margin). It is a good idea to print it in capitals. Then write a colon:

Stage directions should be written in brackets.



Philip Ridley.

Class Clips

Clip - how writing a play is different from writing a story

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