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WRITING A NOVEL VS. WRITING A STAGE PLAY: A COMPARISON

As many of you know, I am primarily a playwright. I’ve written eleven plays and I plan to write several more. Three years ago, I put playwriting aside in order to concentrate on finishing my first novel.  I don’t mean to imply that it took me only three years to write the novel.  I wish! In fact, the process took much longer. Prior to three years ago, I would work on the novel for awhile and then, when the going got rough and the Muse became Mute, I’d go back to playwriting. It wasn’t difficult to put my novel aside. I felt much more at home writing plays.

For me, playwriting is easier than novel writing. There are many novelists who would say the opposite. It depends on one’s skill set. I love to write dialogue and a stage play is close to 100 per cent dialogue. Novels contain dialogue, but they also contain descriptive passages. Scenes and settings have to be described. The actions and behavior of the characters have to be described. The characters themselves have to be described. All of this description is, for me, more difficult than writing dialogue.

Several years ago, when I was in the clutches of the ‘Mute Muse’, I gave a talk at Toastmasters in which I compared the two processes. At that time, I was learning how one writes a novel. I was taking classes and workshops. I was plowing through a stack of how-to books. I learned a lot. I learned even more a lot while actually writing the novel.

I learned that playwriting and novel writing have many things in common. I also learned that the two endeavors are significantly different.

 

 

 

About Peggy D. Snyder. Ph.D.

Psychologist, Author

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