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The Playwright's Guidebook: An Insightful Primer on the Art of Dramatic Writing
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The Playwright's Guidebook: An Insightful Primer on the Art of Dramatic Writing

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  15 reviews
An accessible, contemporary guide to the art of dramatic writing

During the ten years that Stuart Spencer has taught playwriting, he has struggled to find an effective playwriting handbook for his courses. Although most of the currently popular handbooks have good ideas in them, they all suffer from the same problems: they're poorly organized; are composed mostly of quirky,
Paperback, 392 pages
Published March 29th 2002 by Faber & Faber (first published March 2002)
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Levent Mollamustafaoglu
Stuart Spencer's book is faithful to its title, namely it is an unpretentious guidebook, trying to guide the aspiring playwright (or a student) to use the various techniques playwrights have accumulated over centuries and added to their arsenal.
The book is structured in 4 main chapters titled Structure, The Creative Process, Dealing with Problems and Some Advice. It also has a set of Appendices suggesting materials to read and also extra material to enable writing exercises.
Although it is mainly
THE playwriting must-read. Just read it.
Mark Johnson
This is the finest book on writing for the theater that I have encountered, and, believe me, I have read them all, from Aristotle's Poetics through Lajos Egri's classic "Art of Dramatic Writing" (1940), and the mountain of books devoted to various magic formulas guaranteed to generate the next Oscar-winning original screenplay. What sets this manual apart is the author's thoughtful consideration of topics which are almost never touched upon in books of this sort, but which are the very topics wh ...more
The Gatekeeper
A very clear and helpful guide to writing plays. It's taken me so long to find a book on playwriting (as opposed to screenwriting or writing in general). I'm glad I finally found this one. I'll definitely be referring back to it often.
Jun 23, 2007 Allison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists in the theatrical fields and theatrical artists
Shelves: drama
Edward Albee called this book, "Indespensible." I couldn't agree more. Even if you're not a playwright, learning about how plays are composed allows you to delve into dramatic texts on an additional level. Spencer writes to the point, and gives pragmatic advice, and helpful exercises to aid in teaching lessons. He also gives provides a reading list and some suggestions on getting your play produced and filing your taxes. What more could you want?
Though the vocabulary Spencer uses may not be in line with what the reader already knows (multiple meanings of beat & scene; how action means a character's objective, goal, need), the concepts he presents are straightforward, logical & helpful. He clarifies action, conflict & event, reminding playwrights to focus on structure first.
Jessica Barkl
I am currently re-reading this great guidebook in preparation to teach playwrighting at the penitentiary this summer and at main campus in the fall. It was written by my playwrighting teacher from Graduate School, and I think it is really simple and easy to understand. I can't wait to see how the prisoners do with it.
N.A. Ratnayake
Excellent reference. Will be keeping this one and referring back to it for a long time. It's advice on the writing process aside, from the perspective of a director who works with original material quite often, it is highly useful to know the principles on which sound plays are built. An enjoyable and useful read.
Jan 15, 2008 Ivy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beginning playwrights
Stuart Spencer gives you a lot to think about, not just about writing plays but about art and life, and how that ties in with what you're trying to create. Some of the things he talks about can also apply to a lot of other writing disciplines, not just plays. Thought-provoking, well-written and just spot on.
It is clear and it helped me to become familiar with terms that I had not picked up in other types of writing. I read it for a writing class. It changed the way I think about drama, I hadn't given it a lot of thought before. Words like "action" did not have a dramatic meaning in my vocabulary.
I will surely read this book over and over again. Stuart Spencer offers excellent advice to writer's of any skill set or experience. A must read for aspiring writer's of any genre, especially playwrights.
Julie Rose
This is indeed a fantastic primer. A great deal of very useful practical advice, as well as welcome reminders about the alchemy of the creative process.
Scott Wagner
If you're a playwright, this will give you great insight. Great advice that will come to you while you write.
The best book I've read on the subject. I will be reading this one again and taking extensive notes!
Paul Pellicci
The Playwright's Guidebook is full of good information which is easy to find and understand.
Rob marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2015
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