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Playwriting Competition 2016

Full Details

This competition is now closed but you are still welcome to read through the published writing and blog posts.  

Step onto the Write the World stage this month with your own one-act play. Composed of a single scene or a series of scenes, the one-act delivers a powerful punch. Like the short story, this genre requires the writer--you!--to make every word count, every gesture, intonation, and stage direction. What to write about? While a typical play has 3-5 acts, you only have one, so choose a turning point in someone's life, an important event or experience that will change the characters involved. In other words, zoom in on a moment (or series of moments) that exert a particular gravity and significance . . . Or humor. 


A play is divided into acts. Act 1 typically serves as an introduction to the characters and setting; act 2 focuses on the emerging conflict; act 3 builds into the climax and then provides the resolution. In a one-act, you're compressing all these parts (character, setting, conflict, climax, and resolution) into a short space. But, you can use scenes to break up the sequence of events. A new scene shows a change in location or in time. For example, perhaps your first scene takes place in the character’s kitchen, and the next scene at a bus stop. 


As your play develops, deepen your characters by answering as many questions about them as you can. Although you won't include all these details in your play, developing your understanding helps you know how a character will speak or react, how they might feel inside, and what motivates their actions:
    •    How old is he?
    •    Where was she born?
    •    Who is his closest confidant?
    •    What is her earliest memory?
    •    What does his bedroom look like?
    •    What is one secret she holds?
    •    What makes him feel embarrassed?
    •    What is she afraid of?
    •    What does he wish for more than anything else?
    •    What makes her mad?
Most importantly, the central event in your play should have some influence on the main characters. Ask yourself: "How is this experience causing the character to see themselves or the world around them differently?" 

Stage Direction

In writing a play, you aren't telling a story on paper, but through the movement and dialogue of real people on the stage. To translate your (written) vision into live action, you must include information that tells the reader (and actors) the setting of the scene, who is speaking, who the characters are, and any movements or gestures that take place. Here are some formatting tips:
    •    Use parentheses to set off stage directions--the information you are conveying to the readers and actors that the audience will then see on stage.
    •    At the beginning of each scene, provide stage directions in present tense that communicate the setting and the situation. Example: (It's 9 pm at the playground. Charlotte and Caleb are arguing again, as it starts to rain.)
    •    Whenever a new character enters the play, provide a 1-2 line description. Example: (In the dugout, Charlotte and Caleb find Marco, a middle-aged man—dressed in a suit—who's also seeking shelter from the rain.) 
    •    Each line of dialogue should have the speaker's NAME in capital letters at the beginning of the line. This is also how you indicate when a narrator is speaking.

400-1,000 words.   
Guest Judge: Josh Wilder
Josh Wilder is a playwright, and actor from Philadelphia. His work has been developed at The Fire This Time Festival, Playwrights’ Center, Pillsbury House+Theater, The History Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, The Drama League, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. His play Leftovers was a recipient of the 2014 Holland New Voices Playwright Award at The Great Plains Theatre Conference. He is a former Jerome Fellow and Many Voices Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center and has been in residence at The Royal Court Theatre. Josh is a MFA candidate in Playwriting at Yale School of Drama. Training: Carnegie Mellon, BFA.

Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)   
Runner up: $50   
Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)   
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?   
Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.   
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.   
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday April 11th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.   
Key Dates   
June 6: Competition Opens   
June 13: Submit draft for Expert Review (optional)   
June 16: Reviews returned to Writers   
June 21: Final Submissions   
July 1: Winners Announced   
Upcoming Competition   
Letter Writing Opens Monday, July 4
Stay tuned for more details!