Write Drama Right

© 2016 Diana Derringer

Drama moves us like nothing else. The action, pauses, body language, and emotional rawness take us to highs, lows, and everywhere in between, all occurring in minutes.01c33d80-abc8-45d6-8e37-e6ee3900a522

Achieving those actions and reactions, however, takes hours of writing, rewriting, and writhing. As a playwrights, you agonize as you dig for just the right word, facial expression, and movement to make a message flow.

The following guidelines may make that process less burdensome and your presentation more meaningful.


In order to write good drama, read good drama, particularly the style you plan to write. Notice the format, word flow, brevity, and clarity of stage directions and the simplicity of scenes and sets.

It also helps to read basic how-to books on writing effective drama. Kathy Ide’s Christian Drama Publishing: How to Write a Powerful Script and Get It Published provides essential tips for anyone getting started. More detailed publications, classes, and workshops add to your developing knowledge and ability.

Also research the time period and people you plan to portray. Choosing appropriate names, costumes, language, and props adds to the authenticity of scenes.


It’s essential to understand and reflect the ages, backgrounds, and interests of characters. A high school cheerleader does not talk like a college professor. The words characters use and the way they use them speak volumes about their identity. Maintain consistency in character development. Posture, facial expressions, quirky behavior, clothes – everything should say, “This is me.”


Staging a performance and gathering feedback before submission allows you to discover kinks previously undetected. Better to work those out beforehand than for directors or performers to do so later. If time or other constraints prohibit a performance, you can read the drama aloud before a mirror. Listen and watch for minor flaws that may cause major problems.

Reach Out

When getting started, take advantage of local drama needs. Churches may use drama to introduce sermons, small group Bible studies, and special events. If teaching a class, write and present a monologue for the lesson. Try offering your services in local school productions. Libraries love short plays for children’s groups. Better to begin where you live and then branch out to the world.

All that research, reflection, rehearsal, and reaching out takes time, a wise investment in writing drama right.
Diana Derringer writes drama, articles, devotions, planning guides, d41f91d4-2dee-4535-92d9-8c6f18b91287and poetry for several publications, plus radio drama and Bible studies for Christ to the World Ministries. CSS Publishing recently released her first book of drama,Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary: 12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter, and More! One of her family’s greatest joys is serving as a friendship family for international students. Visit Diana at Words, Wit, and Wisdom: Life Lessons from English Expressions.


Write Drama Right — 1 Comment

  1. When you write any play you may have a concept of what you want it to convey and the look you want it to have onstage. While you think what you’ve written is perfect, you may benefit from workshopping a production of it, usually a staged reading first, and then a lite production (minimal set, costumes, blocking, etc). Playwrights will benefit from either pairing up with a community theatre (start your own maybe?) or using talent from their local churches to really add polish and pizazz to their work.

    Don’t forget that you could be ministering to people in the arts world by you crossing over outside the church to put on a production!

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