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ABC Playwriting Exercise Assignment

Purpose

This fun playwriting exercise is from Michael Wright’s book Playwriting in Process: Thinking and Working Theatrically (1997) Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann. The exercise gives you a great sense of what it is like to write dialogue and how that dialogue can reveal character and conflict.

Directions

1.   Using the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E,  etc.), you will write a sequence of lines (dialogue) between two characters.

2.   You can start any place you’d like in the alphabet, but each new line of dialogue will start with the next letter in the alphabet and you must cover every letter of the alphabet in order. For example, if you start your first line of dialogue with the letter “A” then your next line of dialogue would start with the letter “B,” and you would continue with all of the letters until you arrive at “Z.” If you decide to start your dialogue with another letter, say “G,” then your next line of dialogue would start with the letter “H,” you would continue through “Z” and your last letter would be “F.”

3.   Give your characters names.

4.  Once you have used the entire alphabet, you’re done. Don’t worry if the scene you write ends abruptly or doesn’t make sense. That’s okay. Just have fun and don’t overthink it. You may even surprise yourself!

5.  Once you are finished, upload your assignment as a Word or PDF document and click “submit.”

Here is an example of the beginning of a scene to illustrate:

Scene:  Cliff and Olive wait in line to buy movie tickets.

CLIFF:  Aren’t you late?

OLIVE:  Believe it.

CLIFF:  Can’t you just start earlier?

OLIVE:  Don’t “start” with me.

CLIFF:  Ever think my time might be valuable?

OLIVE:   Frankly, no.

Here are some possible “X” and “Z” words to keep you writing in case you get stuck:

X Words

X-axis

X chromosome

Xenophobe

Xenophobia

X rated

X ray

Xylophone

Z Words

Zany                                         Zoo

Zeal                                          Zoom

Zealot                                       Zucchini

Zebra

Zero

Zesty

Zigzag

Zip code

Zodiac

Zombie

Zone

Grading

Comments and notes will be made on the paper. Points will be deducted if scene:

–  does not use every letter of the alphabet as outlined in the directions

–  does not contain dialogue between two characters

–  has numerous spelling, capitalization, etc. errors (slang and incomplete sentences are okay in dialogue)