Character, Scene, and Story: New Tools from the Dramatic Writer's Companion

University of Chicago Press
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Will Dunne first brought the workshop experience down to the desk level with The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, offering practical exercises to help playwrights and screenwriters work through the problems that arise in developing their scripts. Now writers looking to further enhance their storytelling process can turn to Character, Scene, and Story.

Featuring forty-two new workshop-tested exercises, this sequel to The Dramatic Writer’s Companion allows writers to dig deeper into their scripts by fleshing out images, exploring characters from an emotional perspective, tapping the power of color and sense memory to trigger ideas, and trying other visceral techniques. The guide also includes a troubleshooting section to help tackle problem scenes. Writers with scripts already in progress will find they can think deeper about their characters and stories. And those who are just beginning to write will find the guidance they need to discover their best starting point. The guide is filled with hundreds of examples, many of which have been developed as both plays and films.

Character, Scene, and Story is fully aligned with the new edition of The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, with cross-references between related exercises so that writers have the option to explore a given topic in more depth. While both guides can stand alone, together they give writers more than one hundred tools to develop more vivid characters and craft stronger scripts.
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About the author

Will Dunne is resident playwright and faculty member at Chicago Dramatists. He is the author of numerous plays and recipient of many writing awards and honors. Another of his books, The Architecture of Story: A Technical Guide for the Dramatic Writer, is also available from the University of Chicago Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Oct 9, 2017
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780226393643
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Language
English
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Genres
Performing Arts / Theater / Playwriting
Reference / General
Reference / Writing Skills
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In just eight years, The Dramatic Writer’s Companion has become a classic among playwrights and screenwriters. Thousands have used its self-contained character, scene, and story exercises to spark creativity, hone their writing, and improve their scripts.
Having spent decades working with dramatists to refine and expand their existing plays and screenplays, Dunne effortlessly blends condensed dramatic theory with specific action steps—over sixty workshop-tested exercises that can be adapted to virtually any individual writing process and dramatic script. Dunne’s in-depth method is both instinctual and intellectual, allowing writers to discover new actions for their characters and new directions for their stories. The exercises can be used by those just starting the writing process and by those who have scripts already in development. With each exercise rooted in real-life issues from Dunne’s workshops, readers of this companion will find the combined experiences of more than fifteen hundred workshops in a single guide.
This second edition is fully aligned with a brand-new companion book, Character, Scene, and Story, which offers forty-two additional activities to help writers more fully develop their scripts. The two books include cross-references between related exercises, though each volume can also stand alone.
No ordinary guide to plotting, this handbook centers on the principle that character is key. “The character is not something added to the scene or to the story,” writes Dunne. “Rather, the character is the scene. The character is the story.” With this new edition, Dunne’s remarkable creative method will continue to be the go-to source for anyone hoping to take their story to the stage.
While successful plays tend to share certain storytelling elements, there is no single blueprint for how a play should be constructed. Instead, seasoned playwrights know how to select the right elements for their needs and organize them in a structure that best supports their particular story.

Through his workshops and book The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, Will Dunne has helped thousands of writers develop successful scripts. Now, in The Architecture of Story, he helps writers master the building blocks of dramatic storytelling by analyzing a trio of award-winning contemporary American plays: Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, and The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. Dismantling the stories and examining key components from a technical perspective enables writers to approach their own work with an informed understanding of dramatic architecture.

Each self-contained chapter focuses on one storytelling component, ranging from “Title” and “Main Event” to “Emotional Environment” and “Crisis Decision.” Dunne explores each component in detail, demonstrating how it has been successfully handled in each play and comparing and contrasting techniques. The chapters conclude with questions to help writers evaluate and improve their own scripts. The result is a nonlinear reference guide that lets writers work at their own pace and choose the topics that interest them as they develop new scripts. This flexible, interactive structure is designed to meet the needs of writers at all stages of writing and at all levels of experience.
Two devastating short novels adapted for the stage by Steinbeck himself

This Penguin Classics edition celebrates Steinbeck’s dramatic adaptations of his most powerful short novels, Of Mice and Men and The Moon Is Down, featuring a foreword by award-winning actor James Earl Jones.

Of Mice and Men represents an experiment in form – as Steinbeck put it, “a kind of playable novel, written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.” A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films. Of Mice and Men received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play in 1937-1938. A number of acclaimed actors have interpreted the iconic roles of George and Lennie for stage and screen, including James Earl Jones, John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

The Moon Is Down uncovers profound, often unsettling truths about war and human nature. It tells the story of a peaceable town taken by enemy troops, and had an extraordinary impact as Allied propaganda in Nazi-occupied Europe.

This Penguin Classics edition of the theatrical adaptations of Steinbeck’s two classic short novels is essential to actors, playwrights, filmmakers and directors studying the dramatic work of the Nobel Prize winning author of The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
In just eight years, The Dramatic Writer’s Companion has become a classic among playwrights and screenwriters. Thousands have used its self-contained character, scene, and story exercises to spark creativity, hone their writing, and improve their scripts.
Having spent decades working with dramatists to refine and expand their existing plays and screenplays, Dunne effortlessly blends condensed dramatic theory with specific action steps—over sixty workshop-tested exercises that can be adapted to virtually any individual writing process and dramatic script. Dunne’s in-depth method is both instinctual and intellectual, allowing writers to discover new actions for their characters and new directions for their stories. The exercises can be used by those just starting the writing process and by those who have scripts already in development. With each exercise rooted in real-life issues from Dunne’s workshops, readers of this companion will find the combined experiences of more than fifteen hundred workshops in a single guide.
This second edition is fully aligned with a brand-new companion book, Character, Scene, and Story, which offers forty-two additional activities to help writers more fully develop their scripts. The two books include cross-references between related exercises, though each volume can also stand alone.
No ordinary guide to plotting, this handbook centers on the principle that character is key. “The character is not something added to the scene or to the story,” writes Dunne. “Rather, the character is the scene. The character is the story.” With this new edition, Dunne’s remarkable creative method will continue to be the go-to source for anyone hoping to take their story to the stage.
While successful plays tend to share certain storytelling elements, there is no single blueprint for how a play should be constructed. Instead, seasoned playwrights know how to select the right elements for their needs and organize them in a structure that best supports their particular story.

Through his workshops and book The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, Will Dunne has helped thousands of writers develop successful scripts. Now, in The Architecture of Story, he helps writers master the building blocks of dramatic storytelling by analyzing a trio of award-winning contemporary American plays: Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, and The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. Dismantling the stories and examining key components from a technical perspective enables writers to approach their own work with an informed understanding of dramatic architecture.

Each self-contained chapter focuses on one storytelling component, ranging from “Title” and “Main Event” to “Emotional Environment” and “Crisis Decision.” Dunne explores each component in detail, demonstrating how it has been successfully handled in each play and comparing and contrasting techniques. The chapters conclude with questions to help writers evaluate and improve their own scripts. The result is a nonlinear reference guide that lets writers work at their own pace and choose the topics that interest them as they develop new scripts. This flexible, interactive structure is designed to meet the needs of writers at all stages of writing and at all levels of experience.
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