Download The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis In The Creative Interpretation Of Human Motives PDF

TitleThe Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis In The Creative Interpretation Of Human Motives
ISBN 139781607961307
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1.2 MB
Total Pages321
Table of Contents
I Premise
II Character
	1. The Bone Structure
	2. Environment
	3. The Dialectical Approach
	4. Character Growth
	5. Strength of Will and Character
	6. Plot or Character - Which?
	7. Characters plotting their own Play
	8. Pivotal Character
	9. The Antagonist
	10. Orchestration
	11. Unity of Opposites
III Conflict
	1. Origin of Action
	2. Cause and Effect
	3. Static
	4. Jumping
	5. Rising
	6. Movement
	7. Foreshadowing Conflict
	8. Point of Attack
	9. Transition
	10. Crisis, Climax, Resolution
IV General
	1. Obligatory Scene
	2. Exposition
	3. Dialogue
	4. Experimentation
	5. The Timelines of a Play
	6. Entrances and Exits
	7. Why are some bad Plays successful?
	8. Melodrama
	9. On Genius
	10. What is Art? - A Dialogue
	11. When you write a Play
	12. How to get Ideas
	13. Writing for Television
	14. Conclusion
Appendix A - Plays analyzed
	1. Tartuffe
	2. Ghosts
	3. Mourning becomes Electra
	4. Dinner at Eight
	5. Idiot's Delight
Appendix B - How to market your Play
Appendix C - Long Runs on Broadway
About the Author
Document Text Contents
Page 160


challenge she offered; it leaves it as it was. No movement to
be seen.

The next line is sarcastic, but the three "oh dears" are not
only not a challenge, but an admission of the speaker's impo-
tence to remedy the situation. If you doubt this, look at the
next line: "You both look figures of fun in those pajamas."
Apparently Otto's sarcasm passed unnoticed. Gilda has not
been touched, and the play refuses to move.

The very least the author could have done at this point was
show another facet of Gilda's character. We might have seen
the motivation behind Gilda's love life, her flippancy. But we
see nothing but a superfluous comment—to be expected from
"characters" who are simply manikins through whom the au-
thor speaks.

ERNEST: I don't believe I've ever been so acutely irritated in my
whole life.

Anyone who says such a line is harmless. He can whine, but
he cannot add or detract from the sum of the play. His ex-
clamation does not aggravate the situation. There is no threat,
no action. What is a weak character? One who, for any reason,
cannot make a decision.

LEO: It is annoying for you, Ernest. I do see that. I am sorry.

There is something in this line—a trace of heartlessness.
Leo doesn't give a damn about Ernest. But the conflict stays
where it was. Then Otto steps in and assures Ernest that he
too is sorry. If this is funny at all, it is because such an atti-
tude, in life, would be brutal and unfeeling. The character
who can employ such humor and still be heroic does not ex-
ist—and cannot create conflict.

Ernest's next speech is revealing. The antagonist admits
that he cannot put up any sort of a fight, that he must appeal
to the goal (Gilda) to fight his battle for him. Gilda, Otto,
and Leo want what they want and there is no one even to try


Page 161


to stop them. This may be funny in a two-line gag, but it isn't
the conflict necessary for a play.

If you reread the whole quotation, you will see that at the
last line the play is almost in the same position as when it
started. The movement is negligible, particularly when you
remember that the act goes on like this for several pages.

In Brass Ankle, by Du Bose Heyward, almost the whole
first act is taken up with exposition. But the second and third
acts make up for the bad first one. In Design for Lixring there
is cause for conflict in the initial situation, but it never ma-
terializes because of the superficiality of the characters. The
result is a static conflict.

4. Jumping

One of the chief dangers in any jumping conflict is that
the author believes the conflict is rising smoothly. He resents
any critic who insists that the conflict jumps. What are the
danger signals which an author can look for? How can he tell
when he is going in the wrong direction? Here are a few

No honest man will become a thief overnight; no thief will
become honest in the same period of time. No sane woman
will leave her husband on the spur of the moment, without
previous motivation. No burglar contemplates a robbery and
carries it out at the same time. No violent physical act was
ever carried out without mental preparation. No shipwreck
has ever occurred without a sound reason. Some essential part
of the ship may be missing; the captain may be overworked
or inexperienced or ill. Even when a ship collides with an
iceberg, human negligence is involved. Read Good Hope by
Heijermans, and see how a ship thus goes under and human
tragedy reaches a new height.

If you want to avoid jumping or static conflicts, you might

Page 320


Pride of the Marines (Maltz), 28-29
Professor Mamlock, 75
Pygmalion (Shaw), 118

Raisin in the Sun, A (Hansberry), 62
Raphaelson, Samson, 12
Riders to the Sea (Synge), 244
Rodin, Francois Auguste, 30-31
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), 2-3,

11, 12, 15, 70-72, 94, 99, 109, 190,

Room Service (Boretz and Murray),

Roughead, William, 13

Sarilou, Victorien, 92
Saroyan, William, 12, 73, 246
Savory, Gerald, 182
Schnitzler, Artur, 185
Schwarz, Osias L., 256, 258
Science of Logic (Hegel), 51
Science of Playwrighting, The (Mai-

evinsky), 6
Sea Gull, The (Chekhov), 201
Shadow and Substance (Carroll), 5-6,

Shakespeare, William, xii, 2-4, 11, 15,

20, 35, 61, 186, 229, 242, 243, 245,
*49. *57

Shakespeare Papers (Maginn), 72
Shaw, George Bernard, xii, 90, 118
Shaw, Irwin, 78
Sherwood, Robert E., 73, 139, 140, 142,

143, 186, 243, 249, 254, 292
Shifrin, 242
Silver Cord, The (Howard), 62, 81,

113, 266
Sklar, George, 213
Skylark (Raphaelson), 12
Socrates, 49, 50, 257
Sophocles, 95, 98, 239
Soul of Man under Socialism, The

(Wilde), 59-60

Stein, Gertrude, 73
Stevedore (Peters and Sklar), 213-214
Study of British Genius, The (Ellis),

Sweet Bird of Youth (Williams), 4-5
Swerling, Jo, 59
Synge, John Millington, 244

Tartuffe (Moliere), 23-27, 61, 62, 63-
64, 99, 106, 115, 164, 166-168, 201-
202, 279-284

Tesla, Nikola, 28
Theory and Technique of Playwrit-

ing, The (Lawson), 89, 90, 91
Theory of the Theatre, The (Hamil-

ton), 263
They Shall Not Die (Wexley), 184
Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, 179
Time of Your Life, The (Saroyan), 12
Tobacco Road (Kirkland), 80, 81-82,

86, 107, 108, 253
Tragedy of Man, The (Madach), 184

Van Gelder, Robert, 13
Vega, Lope de, xiv
Victoria Regina (Housman), 254
Vinci, Leonardo da, 193, 257

Waiting for Lefty (Odets), 62, 181
Watch on the Rhine (Hellman), 13-

»4. *54
Webster's International Dictionary, 2,

88, 106, 234, 256, 257
Wilde, Oscar, 59-60
Wilde, Percival, xv, 236
Williams, Tennessee, 4-5
Woodruff, Lorande L., 48, 192

Yellow Jack (Howard), 152
Vou Can't Take It with You (Kauf-

man and Hart), 254

Zeno, 51-52

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