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So You Want to Be a Playwright?: How to Write a Play and Get It Produced [Paperback]

Tim Fountain
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Dec 2007
How to develop your play from first idea to first night. Directly addressing the reader as a fellow writer, Tim Fountain guides the would-be playwright over the many hurdles that must be cleared - from finding a story that only you know, through the detailed construction of the play act-by-act, scene-by-scene, and on to the many strategies that can help to get it on stage.

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So You Want to Be a Playwright?: How to Write a Play and Get It Produced + How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books) + The Crafty Art of Playmaking
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Product details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Nick Hern Books (14 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854597167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854597168
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A marvellous and invaluable guide ... full of wisdom and no-nonsense, practical advice on the tricky but thrilling business of making plays.' --Willy Russell

About the Author

Tim Fountain both teaches playwriting and is a playwright himself - his Resident Alien and Julie Burchill is Away are published by NHB - as well as having been literary manager at the Bush Theatre, London, where he encountered hundreds of hopeful plays and playwrights. He achieved notoriety with Sex Addict in Edinburgh and the Royal Court, London.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable practical guide 31 Jan 2008
Tim is a playwright and an inspiring writing tutor - I've done several of his courses and found them really useful for understanding and absorbing mainstream play structure. I suspect this book will be of use to acting students as much as to aspiring writers; I've certainly found his principles invaluable when attempting to analyse plays with directing students.

The actual how-to part of the book may not seem that long - about seventy pages - and a substantial amount of the book is about the process of putting a play on, getting an agent, pitfalls, etc. But the point is that what Tim does say about the process of writing is invaluable because it's the bottled essence of years of working with students and his own experience. His style is down to earth and the book is set out as a series of questions or points so you can return to appropriate sections easily.

He's never overly prescriptive although he fiendishly cuts off the excuses that some of us have for not completing work: "the crucial thing is to keep the play in focus at some time during each day...the moment you get out of the habit of writing every day (for however short a time) ... it is amazing how quickly your project will vanish from view and the subconscious will cease to work on it." (Ain't it the truth?) He also suggests that with the first draft the primary aim is to get to the end, and being too precious about dialogue is pointless at this stage: "You should be thinking about the overall arc and architecture of the piece. Will the building still stand up - and what work needs to be done if it won't.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because 6 stars ain't available 9 Jan 2009
Over the years I have read most books in print on playwrighting. A few are very popular and even the text of choice in some colleges and universities. A quote from Twyla Tharp comes to mind: "Why do we have to crawl to Art on our hands and knees? And put brambles in the path? It's something you do."

There came a point in my life when I realised that what I didn't need was to read another book on playwrighting. I had to start writing the play. I don't know Tim Fountain and I haven't seen his plays, but I can tell you there is more practical -- and honest -- advice in this book than in any other I've read. You have to learn how to write a play by writing the play; what this book does is provide an excellent road map and a terrific guide. I've encountered almost every obstacle and difficulty that he writes about, and his advice is practical and witty and clear and succinct. And the final proof is that it really did get me off my butt and got me writing again, which no book has managed before. That has to be the final test.

In my view, this is the best out there. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best 14 May 2010
So you want to be a playwright" is the best book I ever read on playwriting. It is very short and to the point. In the second half (!) of the book he also tell you what happens after your play has been accepted and how you are going to feel during rehearsels.
A very good point is that he strsses all the time: finish the play, finish it, don't write the first episode over and over again. It is not a novel. And write every day for a short time because the development of the play goes on in your brains while you are not writing!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of it's kind 22 Jun 2011
By AnaKatz
This book basically answers every single question a beginning playwright could possibly have. Written in a really friendly, down to earth style, So, You Want to Be a Playwright helps you encapsulate 'the story only you can tell', takes you through the re-drafting journey and tells you exactly what to do and expect when you get to the stage of trying to market it and get a production. It has been invaluable for me in re-booting my enthusiasm and spurring me on to complete my first play. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slick, pacey and funny. 18 Mar 2010
Anyone who has ever worked in theatre will tell you it's a collaborative art form.
Many discliplines jostle for attention, and Fountain, in his witty and modern book, reminds us that it is the writer who is foremost.

With clear examples from his own literary career, Fountain illustrates a writer's life, their inspiration, and some of the hurdles which must be jumped to achieve theatrical success.

Endlessly witty and clued up, Fountain's book is a pacey read, with anecdotes a plenty, loads of good jokes and a strong sense of what an audience really wants.
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