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Dramatic Writing

Course CodeBWR110
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Dramatic Writing Course. Study online or by distance learning

Develop skills to write dramas for TV, radio, books and more.

  • Learn to write drama, and stimulate the readers emotions.
  • Learn more about the mechanics of writing.
  • Develop your capacity to communicate more clearly and effectively.
  • Explore opportunities to turn your passion into a rewarding job.
This course is suitable for absolute beginners or people who wish to improve their dramatic writing skills.  

What is Dramatic Writing?

Drama is the term usually used to describe a specific type of fiction that is represented via performance. It comes from the Greek word for action. So although theatrical drama is intended to be performed by actors for an audience, dramas are also written to be read.

Do you have story ideas but don't know where to start?  Do you want to create plots that are engaging and interesting to read?  Do you want the opportunity to have your work published in the student newsletter?  Then this is the course for you.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Motivation
    • Typing Time
    • Types of Writing : Reflection, Exposition, Description, Explanation, Argument
    • Making Decisions about what to Write
    • Know your stuff
    • The concept
    • Synopsis
    • Keeping a Notebook
    • Process of Story Development
    • Planning a Story
    • Developing your Voice
    • Useful terms
  2. Characters
    • Developing the characters
    • Building Characters
    • Main Characters
    • Minor Characters
  3. Theme & Genre
    • Developing a Theme
    • Universal Themes
    • Sub Themes
    • Creating Conflict
    • Names
  4. Plot Development
    • First Decisions
    • Ambience
    • The End of a Story
    • Types of Dramatic Story: Memoirs, Biographies, Reflective Stories, Historical etc
  5. Weaving a Story
    • Techniques: Action, Emotion, Mirror; Parallel lives, Palm Cards
    • Writers Block
    • Developing a Story Line
    • Things to Avoid
    • Different Approaches: Dialectic, Transition
    • How a Character Affects a Plot
    • How Plot Affects Genre
    • Goals
    • Consequences
    • Motive
    • Flashbacks and Flashforwards
  6. Writing a Dramatic Short Story
    • Main Character and Antagonist
    • Creating a Sense of Place
    • Counting Out Your Story
    • Short Stories
  7. Developing Sub Plots
    • Method
    • Plants
    • Activity
  8. Writing a Chapters for a Dramatic Work (Novel or Play)
    • Getting Published
    • Writing Resources
    • Writing as a Business
    • Vanity Publishing
    • Dealing with Publishers
    • Creating a Chapter or Segment of a larger work

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Define and develop an understanding of dramatic writing.
  • Develop methods of developing characters in dramatic writing.
  • Define different genres and develop themes for dramatic writing.
  • Develop techniques for developing your plot.
  • Describe techniques for weaving a story.
  • Develop a short story using dramatic writing.
  • Develop a chapter of dramatic writing.
  • Determine how to develop sub plots.

What Type of Writing are You Interested in?

There are many different types of writing – short stories, poems, novels, screen plays etc. Dramatic writing can fall into all of these. A short story usually takes place over a shorter period of time. It is often set in just one setting/scene, and the characters may be shown with broader strokes – there is not as much time to analyse characters as there is with novel writing.

A novel, however, allows more space to describe characters and scenes. There may be more than one scene and more than one plot. The plots may be multi-layered.

Writing comes in many guises, all of which can be creatively employed and manipulated by the writer, regardless of the form (novel, poetry, travel guide etc.) in which she or he is writing.

Developing a Plot

A good plot is usually based on one or two ideas that are very simple. Your idea does not have to be original or earth shattering, it just has to be a new take on an old idea.

Think for a moment about vampires. How many stories do you know about vampires? We can look at the old ‘Hammer’ horror films, the original Dracula, the new Twilight saga, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys…. the list is endless, these are only a few. You may not be an expert on vampires, but if you are aware of these films and books, you will know that all show a slightly different side of vampires. They are all based on the same idea -- that vampires are bloodsuckers, who feast on humans. Of course that is not enough to make a story interesting. Each of these stories is different. For example, The Lost Boys is a story of a young man who nearly becomes a vampire when feeling lost and disillusioned after moving to a new town. The story is about his struggle to not become a vampire and to save his family. So the ‘what if’ for this story is – ‘what if you move to a new town overtaken by vampires’? Buffy The Vampire Slayer is another vampire story that looks at teenage girl who is destined to fight vampires. She is the only one in the world at one point who has this destiny, however, she falls in love with a vampire. The Twilight saga follows a similar theme, a young girl falls in love with a vampire, but this vampire does not believe in taking human life.

It is about vampires, but this serves as an example to how we start off with a simple idea and then move on in our own way, developing our own plots and subplots. As we said earlier, none of these ideas are original but it is how they are written and how the story develops that is important.

So before you go on to develop your plot, which we will look at later, you need to decide on your theme.

Where do you get a theme from?

This is entirely up to you. There are ideas everywhere around you. On your bookshelf, in your life, in your head, in the conversation you overhear at the supermarket counter, in a sentence you heard, on your TV, in your family's life, everywhere around you.

After the Plot - Develop Sub Plots

Sub plots are separate stories that are happening in the background of the main story. The main story may for example be a murder mystery; while sub plots can be things happening in the lives of the various characters aside to the murder. Sub plots could be things such as turmoil in the life of the police officer and the emotional and financial problems being faced by friends and family of the deceased.

The plot may dominate a story, but adding sub plots can make it a whole lot more interesting. A sub plot story can always stand on its own, but it also needs to mesh to the main plot. 

Think about the subplot?

  • Is the subplot a stand-alone story?
  • Does it help the main plot?
  • Does it join the main plot in some way nearer the end? For example, the main characters join characters from the subplot near the end to work towards a common goal?

Though they may sometimes seem unnecessary, subplots are an essential part of any novel-length work. This is because all stories are made up of smaller stories. In Cinderella, the major plot is the rags-to-riches story of Cinderella moving from servant to princess. Her falling in love with the prince serves this story, and is a major plot point. But what about the rest of the story? Does it all directly serve the servant-to-princess arc? Are there other stories tucked away in there?

Yes. One of the fairytale’s subplots is Cinderella’s relationship with her stepfamily. This relationship is its own separate story – Cinderella’s stepmother forces the girl into servitude because she hates her. Cinderella’s stepsisters also hate her. Although we do not have much depth in the fairytale on why, this subplot offers the opportunity for exploration and better developing the motivations behind a major plot point in the story: Cinderella’s servant status. Moreover, this subplot is inextricably tied to the major plot – without Cinderella’s enforced servitude, the fairy tale would cease being a rags-to-riches story with a romance component, and become a more simplistic love story.

In short: subplots add to a story. They bring in valuable information, back story, and potential conflict.

Where do subplots come from?

Effective subplots are always attached to the main story. They add to rather than detract from. The simplest way to find potential subplots is to go back to your main plot and look at:

  • the information required for each plot point;
  • how you could escalate drama, risk, or reward at key points;
  • motivations for specific key actions;
  • potential backstory for emotional reactions.

Identifying these points will help you work out the type of subplots you need, and how they help move your story forward. Generally speaking, a plot-driven novel will have at least one character-driven subplot, while a character-driven novel will have at least one plot-driven subplot. This is because subplots help create balance in your story.

Developing subplots

The development process for a subplot is quite close to the development process for a main plot. Subplots are still stories, which means they can be mapped to one of the story structures discussed earlier in this book. Invest time in writing out the same kind of developmental work. It will help you work out how your subplot fits into your story, where the pieces come together, and how the threads tie up at the end. This is especially helpful when writer’s block hits, and you feel like you can’t get all the pieces to line up properly. Having your developmental notes for other pieces of the story can help jump start your creative processes and get the words flowing again.

Is it a plot or a subplot?

There will be times when it feels as if a subplot is going to overwhelm the main story. This is usually a clue that something has gone wrong in your development stage, and that your main plot is too weak. Step back and look at your main plot and your development notes. Where are the weak spots?

Next, take a look at your subplot. Is it overwhelming the main plot because you’ve left gaps, or because it’s patching up gaps in the main story? Or is it more compelling for some reason? Is there more at stake? If this is the case, you may have set your story out in reverse – your subplot is actually your main plot, and your main plot is actually your subplot. (This happens more often than you might think.)
If none of the above are true, but you still feel like your subplot is overwhelming the rest of the story, axe it. But do not throw it out. If the story is so strong it’s overwhelming another, you quite likely have the seeds of another book in hand.

Want to learn more?   Enrol and start learning today.



Meet some of our academics

Gavin ColeGavin has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting his own firm. Gavin has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA.
John Mason John Mason is one of Australia's most prolific writers. He saw his first work published when at secondary school, where he worked on the school magazine. In 1973 he was writing a weekly column for his local newspaper and by 1975 he was a regular contributor to Australia's national magazine "Your Garden". John was engaged by Victoria's Dept of Youth, Sport and Recreation to write a book on Fun and Fitness Trails in 1978. In 1981 he saw two more books published (one in America, another in Australia), and commenced writing regularly for the Self Sufficiency Magazine, Grass Roots. John is a long term member of the Australian Society of Authors, the Garden Media Guild (UK) and the Horticultural Media Association (Australia). He has written or contributed to over 100 books, many published by international publishers and published more than 2,000 articles across a range of genres (Gardening, Education, Business, Farming, Fitness). In addition, John has contributed to and overseen the development of more than 600 distance education courses which encompass around 20 million words. He has been an avid photographer for 40 years, building a collection of over 100,000 images, which are used to illustrate his work. His marine animal photos are even used by Legoland in England, on their Atlantis ride! Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.
Peta Jinnath AbdulB.Sc., Grad.Dip.Ed., M.Creative Writing
Rachel SyersRachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture. Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea. Rachel has a B.Journalism.


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