Playwriting Seminars 2.0: A Handbook on the Art and Craft of Dramatic Writing with an Introduction to Screenwriting

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Playwriting Seminars is “a treasure-trove of information, philosophy, and inspiration” (Theatre Journal), “an absolutely essential guide to all aspects of playwriting and a valuable whitewater raft trip down the rapids of Hollywood screenwriting” (Magellan), and “a terrific learning environment for writers” (WebCrawler Select). It was also a recommended resource for playwrights at New Dramatists (NYC). The Handbook’s initial concepts came from the author’s work with Lucasfilm and the BBC. It was originally developed for playwrights and screenwriters, but has since been used by writers of fiction and nonfiction books. This new edition covers all aspects of writing full-length plays with an expanded treatment of screenwriting for Hollywood and independent film as well as diagrams of key elements of dramatic structure. Playwriting techniques are explained with many examples from classic and contemporary plays performed today by America's regional theatres as well as on Broadway and Off-Broadway. The 392 page Handbook explains the interconnections between characters and plot and the importance of subtext to character development in the contemporary theatre (what characters don’t tell us matters as much as what they say in dialogue). Key exercises are included for developing “voice” as a writer and for creating the essential dual plot structure that supports intriguing characters in today’s theatre. Many professionals in theatre and film are quoted on key parts of the art and craft of playwriting and screenwriting to help explain effective techniques. Special sections of the Handbook focus on getting inspiration and avoiding writer’s block, editing first drafts, professional script formats for theatre and film (including software), how to launch new scripts, putting together submission packages for theatres and competitions, how to write an effective script synopsis and writer’s bio, working with directors, actors and agents, how to survive audience “talkbacks” following readings and workshop productions, methods to adjust your playwriting skills for screenwriting and television work, and options for making a living at the craft of dramatic writing.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Franz Press (March 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615608213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615608211
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

Customer Reviews

This book towers over the competition. Sublime. Buy it.

8 people found this helpful.
 on June 16, 2015
By HonestReviews
Do not order any other book: This is the book you want if you know nothing about play writing, especially how to format the written page for submission to producers. Expertly written with clear, concise explanation, discussion, opinion, and “nuts and bolts” the mechanics of starting and completing a play are all laid out in an easily read format. I wish I had bought this book first and not wasted my money on two other books I *thought* were going to be helpful and instructional. Granted, it’s hyperbole, but this Kindle book is practically the instructor-delivered portion of a top-tier MFA course in play writing.

I would recommend this book to any playwright on any level.

2 people found this helpful.
 on September 25, 2015
By Juan A. Ramos
At this stage of my life as a part-time playwright, this book was just what I needed to challenge me to improve my playwriting skills and at the same time validate the things I am doing right. It is written in a no-nonsense manner with no mumbo-jumbo playwriting platitudes. If the concepts are not understood by a playwright at ANY level, then one needs to think seriously about seeking another career. It also gives a very informative and balanced perspective on the basics of writing screenplays and the pros and cons of seeking it as a career (as it does with seeking playwriting as a career – as well as juggling between the two and what that requires of the soul). Like any such career in theatre and film it requires a combination of talent, persistence, hard work and just plain luck for success (depending on one’s definition of success). This book is not written through rose-colored glasses and tells it like it is. The last portion of the book features quotes from noted authors, playwrights and screenwriters which provide a virtual banquet of food for thought. Highly recommended. It is now my playwriting *bible. * Please note that I am not a fundamentalist in any aspect of my life.

An Insightful, Practical Guide

10 people found this helpful.
 on December 21, 2011
By Shannon Rosell
How To textbooks can be didactic and narrow, but when dealing with a creative topic like writing for the theatre, what you want is something motivational and expansive. You need to know where the barriers are, but you also want to be encouraged to leap over them and do something – well – creative. That’s what Richard Toscan has delivered with his newly revised text, “Playwriting Seminars 2.0”.

Definitely "Play Writing for Dummies"! — this one, at any rate…

 on December 5, 2017
By Webistrator
If you decide today that you wanna be a playwright and know from nothing, this book’s gonna be your best friend! Nicely written, umpteen examples and it presumes nothing other than a reasonable command of English. I’ve had an idea for a stage play in the back of my mind for years and now, thanks to Mr. Toscan’s well-structured and eminently readable book, I just might get it done. Break a leg!

A Book Every Playwright Should Have

One person found this helpful.
 on July 14, 2014
By S. G. Johnson
This book is an incredible tool to use if you’re a beginning playwright or an advanced student in playwrighting. It’s filled with a lot of valuable information and is chock-full of examples to illustrate the topic of each section. This book will lay the foundation for your working script, and will inspire you to seek out to view or read the plays they present as examples. The writing style is so accessible that you can easily grasp the concepts. I highly recommend this book!


3 people found this helpful.
 on July 19, 2013
By Michael Downend, San Miguel de Allende, MX
Richard Toscan’s website and book are the best around if you want to try dramatic writing. He’s one of the best teachers in the business. I followed

This is the best book I’ve found on play writing

2 people found this helpful.
 on March 25, 2015
By staci backauskas
This is the best book I’ve found on play writing. Succinct and easy to understand, it highlights all of the essentials needed to write a great play.

Playwriting Seminars 2.0: A Handbook on the Art and Craft of Dramatic Writing

 on July 30, 2013
By DianaB
Great book – highly useful information both from a playwright’s and a screenwriter’s perspective. Of great additional benefit is the list of plays alongside the text, providing an exemplar regarding the concept being discussed -thank you so much


10 people found this helpful.
 on January 12, 2012
By Ray Shane
I have studied the online version of the PLAYWRITING SEMINARS for years (I guess that would be version 1.0), which helped me write a Lionsgate movie, two novels, and two nonfiction books. I think the ebook is even better. I consider playwriting the highest form of writing. Because of the confines of the stage, the writer’s imagination must expand. I want to be a playwright when I grow up:)


 on July 31, 2016
By M. Dean Stewart
Love it!

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