Getting Published: Playwriting

Are You Ready to Submit?

Make sure your script is the best it can possibly be before sending it out. Even if the brief only requires an extract, make sure the script is completed and not just a rushed first draft.

Submitting Your Script

There are several opportunities in theatres across Scotland to submit your work, either as part of an open submissions window or through a specific call for entries. Before you send a script to a theatre, always check that they take unsolicited scripts.

Include a cover letter with your script but keep it short. Provide a brief synopsis of the play and the characters involved to demonstrate that your story has potential. It’s also important to provide any key information about your previous work. Have you had a play produced before, been involved with a student drama society or taken part in a rehearsed reading? Include any relevant experience which will help prove you are serious and committed to your work.

Lots of theatres host evenings where new writers can submit a short script for a rehearsed reading in front of an audience

Make sure your script is formatted properly. Format does vary between play texts, but the easiest way to do this is pick up a script from your bookshelves or your local library and copy that format.

Lots of theatres host evenings where new writers can submit a short script for a rehearsed reading in front of an audience.  This can be a great way to showcase your work and receive feedback in a friendly and informal setting.

Like all writing, playwriting can be very difficult to break into professionally outside of a university setting. Very few plays by new writers are produced and opportunities are highly sought after. Be realistic about your prospects, but remember to enjoy the process too. More than any other genre, playwriting gives you the opportunity to collaborate with others and learn from their creative experiences.

Developing Your Script

Theatre is a Collaborative Process

You must be willing to take on feedback and work with others to make your piece the best it can be. You are likely to be invited into the rehearsal room and may find your play in an unrecognisable state. It is important to learn when to compromise and when to let go.

Get Your Work on its Feet

You won’t really know how your play sounds until you have actors speaking your lines. Actors will have their own questions and concerns about the characters which can be helpful as you rework the story.  

Getting your work on its feet early in the writing process is a great chance to make sure that the story you’re telling belongs on the stage. Your idea may strong but it might find a better home elsewhere.

Consider Your Audience

This shouldn’t dominate your thoughts while you’re drafting the play, but it is important to think about who you are writing for. Why are you writing for them? How do you want your audience to feel before, during or after the play?

Getting your work on its feet early in the writing process is a great chance to make sure that the story you’re telling belongs on the stage

Watch and Read as Many Plays as You Can

Watching a variety of plays will help you instinctively learn the craft. By paying careful attention to how scenes are orchestrated and characters are developed, you’ll be able to use this experience to improve your own work. 

As you read a play text, think carefully about the language and dramaturgy − or devices − which could be used to bring it to life. Imagine the different ways actors could inhabit the characters and pay attention to how the story unfolds. 

Attend Production Talks

Post-show talks with the director and members of the acting company are now commonplace during a production’s run. These talks are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the work behind the production, as well as giving you the opportunity to ask your own questions.

Key Organisations

National Theatre of Scotland

Federation of Scottish Theatre

Playwrights’ Studio Scotland

The Traverse Theatre

Citizens Theatre

Tron Theatre

A Play, a Pie and a Pint