A Masterclass in Dramatic Writing: Theater, Film, and Television, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Masterclass in Dramatic Writing

Theater, Film, and Television, 2nd Edition

By Janet Neipris, Janet Neipris


168 pages

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pub: 2016-07-13
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For decades writers have competed to enroll in the legendary Master classes led by Janet Neipris at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and across the globe. Several generations of playwrights, screenwriters, and television writers have been inspired and educated by her. Her newest book provides the next best thing to studying with her around the seminar table. It’s wise, engaging, focused.

The fourteen chapters, organized like a semester, guide the writer week-by-week and step-by-step to the completion of a first draft and a rewrite. There are Weekly Exercises and progressive Assignments. Chapters include Beginnings, Creating Complex Characters, Dialogue, Escalating Conflicts, Endings, Checkpoints, Comedy, and Adaptation. For professional writers, teachers, and students, as well as anyone who want to complete their first piece. What’s important is that you will finish. Janet will be guiding you to The End.

An award winning playwright and Professor of Dramatic Writing at NYU, Janet Neipris has written for Screen and Television. She has also taught dramatic writers at UCLA and in China, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Italy, and in the UK at Oxford, CSSD, University of Birmingham, and the University of East Anglia. Previous publications include To Be A Playwright (Routledge 2006). Janet Neipris’s plays and letters are in the Theatre Collection of Harvard University’s Houghton Library.


"An award-winning playwright, Neipris adds five new chapters to the earlier edition along with concrete examples from classic works and from her own writing. The book’s organization parallels a one-semester, 14-week course, providing exercises and assignments that leave readers with a first draft or rewrite. Neipris demonstrates her vulnerability, sharing the experience she has gained writing and teaching. In contrast to other playwriting texts—for example, Noe¨l Greig's Playwriting: A Practical Guide (2005), which is less personal, and Playwriting Master Class: The Personality of Process and the Art of Rewriting, ed. by Michael Wright (2000), which collects essays from various playwrights—Neipris’s Masterclass brings readers right into her writing room."

- C. Cox, University of Northern Iowa in CHOICE

Table of Contents

Preface: The Moral Responsibility of the Artist

Introduction: The Writer’s Life

    1. Week 1: Beginnings
    2. Week 2: Creating Complex Characters
    3. Week 3: Dialogue
    4. Week 4: Escalating Conflicts
    5. Week 5: Sixty Questions When Writing a Dramatic Piece
    6. Week 6: Putting it all Together
    7. Week 7: Endings
    8. Week 8: Checkpoints
    9. Week 9: Rewriting
    10. Week 10: Adaptation
    11. Week 11: Comedy
    12. Week 12: The Fifteen Habits of Successful Dramatic Writers
    13. Week 13: Lessons from Master Teachers and Students
    14. Week 14: To Be a Writer

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
REFERENCE / Writing Skills