Playwriting For Dummies
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When you’re ready to develop your idea for a play, you need to express it in terms that other playwrights and theatre people understand. Here are some of the more common playwriting terms:

  • Protagonist: The main character of your story; the character with a mission

  • Antagonist: A character or thing that stands in your protagonist’s way

  • Conflict: The opposing objectives of your protagonist and antagonist

  • Arc, spine, or through-line: The story line; what the audience is waiting to find out

  • Stakes: What the characters stand to gain or lose if they succeed or fail

  • Inciting incident: The event that launches the protagonist and gets the plot going

  • Backstory: Events that have taken place in the past

  • Exposition: The motivated revelation of the backstory through dialogue

  • Actions: Things said or done by the characters to achieve their objectives

  • Rising action: The protagonist’s uphill journey, alternating gains and setbacks

  • Climax: The final confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist

  • Resolution: The aftermath of the climax; how the dust settles

About This Article

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About the book author:

Angelo Parra is an award-winning playwright who has received national acclaim for several of his plays. He teaches theatre and playwriting at SUNY Rockland. Angelo is the founder and director of the Hudson Valley Professional Playwrights Lab and president of the board of Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point, New York.

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