The NJYPF does not look for a certain “type” of play. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also strongly encourage plays that challenge ideologies and storytelling structure, plays that are non-traditional and inventive. That being said, here are some questions to ask yourself about your play:

  • Theatrical World– Does your play create its own complete world? Does it stay inside the rules of that world throughout the whole play? If it doesn’t, how does that add to the effect of the play?
  • Characters – Are your characters interesting people you want to know and watch? Do your main characters (especially your central character) grow and/or change? What do we understand from that growth or change? Why is it important for us to understand? Are the characters behaving consistently within the theatrical world you created?
  • Plot/Story/Action –  How does your story tell itself? Does the action unfold in a way different from traditional story-telling structures? Does it innovate on a traditional structure? Regardless of its structure, are the tensions– the opposing forces– in the play driven by your characters’ wants or needs? Do they make you want to keep watching? Do you understand more as you watch?
  • Dialogue –  Do the characters sound the way people should in the theatrical world you have created? When you hear them speak, can you get a sense of who they might be from just their dialogue? Can you distinguish one character from another by how they speak? When you say the lines out loud, does it feel like natural speaking? Can your characters say the same– or more– with less words? Can actions replace words in some instances?
  • Subject/Theme –  What do you want the audience to understand at the end of the play? What do you want them to do after they have seen the play? Is the subject matter new? Is it trying to say something familiar in a new way? Do the characters and the story support your intentions throughout? How does the Theatrical World you have created add meaning to your intentions.

You may also find writing tips, prompts, inspirations, and advice on the New Jersey Young Playwrights blog and the NJYPF Facebook page .

“Definitions… are valuable and essential, but they must never be made into absolutes; if they are, they become obstacles to the development of new forms, experiment and invention.” –Martin Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama