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The Playwright's Guidebook [Paperback]

Stuart Spencer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.00
Price: 12.80 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Mar 2003
During the more than ten years that Stuart Spencer has taught playwriting, he has struggled to find an effective handbook for his courses. Although most of the currently popular guides contain useful ideas, they all suffer from the same problems: poor organization; quirky, idiosyncratic advice; and abstract theorizing on the nature of art. As a result, they fail to offer any concrete information or useful guidelines on how to construct a well-written play. Out of frustration, Spencer wrote his own. The result, The Playwright's Guidebook, is a concise and engaging handbook full of the kind of wisdom that comes naturally with experience. Spencer presents a coherent way of thinking about playwriting that addresses the important principles of structure, includes invaluable writing exercises that build upon one another, explores the creative process, and troubleshoots recurrent problems that many playwrights face.

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The Playwright's Guidebook + How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books) + The Crafty Art of Playmaking
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Product details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1 edition (3 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571199917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571199914
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Stuart Spencer's meticulous handbook does something I had thought was almost impossible: it describes, clarifies and analyzes the mysterious process of building a play. And moreover, he does so with the grace and respect of a first-rate teacher for the intelligence and potential of his students. There is no ideology, no formula for instant success here. Just the distilled experience of a real practitioner generous enough to share, and reliable enough to be trusted."--Jon Robin Baitz, author of "Ten Unknowns and Substance of Fire " "Stuart Spencer's The Playwright's Guidebook is indispensable. Clearly and thoroughly, Mr. Spencer--a playwright himself--leads all playwrights (not only the beginner) through the travails of creation and the jungle of production. He is to be congratulated."--Edward Albee "Eureka! A clearly written, well-structured, intelligent how-to book about playwrighting. Like the good teacher and good writer that he is, Stuart Spencer guides rather than browbeats. Should be next to the laptop of any aspiring, or working, playwright."--Warren Leight, author of "Side Man " "If you want to be a playwright, here's your bible."--David Lindsay-Abaire, author of" Fuddy Meers" and "Wonder of the World" "At last! A straight-from-the-shoulder approach to playwrighting that finally blows the dust off much of the mystique surrounding this craft. Stuart Spencer writes with wit, insight, clarity, brilliant first-hand knowledge, and yes, finally, offers genuine help! Refreshing and beautifully organized, this book is long overdue."--Jack O'Brien, Artistic Director, The Globe Theatres, San Diego "A sensible, lucid, thorough and tremendously helpful journey into the always mysterious realities of playwrighting."--Romulus Linney, author of "The Sorrows of Frederick," "Holy Ghosts," and "Tennessee" "Mr. Spencer's guidebook is full of solid, straightforward advice in a conversational voice that takes the

About the Author

Stuart Spencer is a playwright who teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE TOOLS we're about to discuss provide you with the means to begin writing your play. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Playwright's Guidebook 17 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stuart Spencer's book does exactly what it says on the tin! The subtitle "An Insightful Primer on the Art of Dramatic Writing may SOUND pretentious, but he does EXACTLY that. Basing much of the theory behind his book on Aristotle's 'Poetics', he sets out to define precisely what a play is, then proceeds to tell you how to write one: ... then - how to write it BETTER! If you want to write plays, get it on your shelf! Invaluable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very glad I found this 16 Sep 2012
By Runcorn
I stumbled upon this in a bookshop a few years ago now, but am reading it for the third time recently. The early parts don't necessarily tell you anything revolutionary, but it's so clearly articulate on the fundamentals. Once that established the author goes on to talk about the anatomy of scene building and how to build conflict, and is as good as anyone else I've read on this aspect of writing. That kind of thing also covers novel writing, screenplays, short stories - I thought the lessons in this book were very versatile.

I've recommended it to a couple of mates who've also read it and found it helpful. It obviously doesn't have all the answers, doesn't deal that much with dialogue and characterisation for example. Definitely recommend this if you're especially looking for something with focus on how the different aspects of writing are connected on a structural and thematic level.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Writers 30 Nov 2012
By Kate C
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this hands-on guide to playwriting. I've had two plays produced this year and when I was a little stuck or just looking for a step in the right direction this book helped me and I was very grateful for it.
I'd recommend it to any playwright out there, whether just starting out or a seasoned veteran.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making your idea into an actual play 24 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is in many ways great.
First and foremost it teaches you that writing a play is a craft that can be learned by most people and not a question of divine inspiration.
I especially liked the first part that gives you the tools to structure the play and allows you to put words on what drives the plot. This is really nice never having wrtitten a play - but having an idea and wanting to!
It's a no nonense aproach without developing deep descriptions of the psychology of the charachters.
I liked most of the excercises and for once I've actually tried more of them and intend to try more developing my idea.
I have two reasons for not giving it five stars. First it's aimed at an American market (I admit this is rather unfair - he never promised otherwise). And second, the premis for the whole book is that you have the liberty to write the entire play and the sell it (or in other ways take it from the page to the stage). But in my case - and many others as I hear - the idea is sent to a theater and developed together and the play is tried to get funded. In this way many people have a saying on the play from the beginning. More on handling this would have given "The Playwright's Guidebook" its fifth star.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise introduction to playwriting 12 Mar 2010
By docent
Great introduction to playwriting, many examples and common-sense advice. The scope is just adequate. All in all, very interesting reading.
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