Playwriting with Purpose : A Guide and Workbook for New Playwrights book cover
1st Edition

Playwriting with Purpose
A Guide and Workbook for New Playwrights

ISBN 9781032003818
Published August 17, 2021 by Routledge
188 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Playwriting with Purpose: A Guide and Workbook for New Playwrights provides a holistic approach to playwriting from an award-winning playwright and instructor.

This book incorporates craft lessons by contemporary playwrights and provides concrete guidance for new and emerging playwrights. The author takes readers through the entire creative process, from creating characters and writing dialogue and silent moments to analyzing elements of well-made plays and creating an atmospheric environment. Each chapter is followed by writing prompts and pro tips that address unique facets of the conversation about the art and craft of playwriting. The book also includes information on the business of playwriting and a recommended reading list of published classic and contemporary plays, providing all the tools to successfully transform an idea into a script, and a script into a performance.

Playwriting with Purpose gives writers and students of playwriting hands-on lessons, artistic concepts, and business savvy to succeed in today’s theater industry.

Table of Contents

1. Creating Compelling Characters  2. Writing Electric Dialogue and Silent Moments  3. Environment and Idea  4. The "Well-Made Play" (Short and Long Form)  5. Scene Structure  6. Monologue Structure  7. Thoughts on Aristotle’s Poetics  8. Other Structures  9. Writing in 3D for the Living Stage  10. The Limitless Room  11. The Revision Process  12. The Business of Playwriting

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Jacqueline Goldfinger is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg, and librettist who seeks out unique collaborations, working across disciplines to create singular works of theater and opera. Her awards include the Yale Prize, the Opera America Discovery Grant, the Smith Prize, the Sloan Grant, the Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts, the Tennessee Williams Fellowship, and the Generations Award. She teaches workshops and seminars at college and university theater programs across the U.S., including at the University of California, Davis and San Diego, the University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University. For more information, visit


"I wish I had this book when I began my writing journey. It's fresh, funny, thought-provoking, and provides important insights into the industry so that playwrights can get their work on stage immediately."

Antoinette Nwandu, Award-Winning Playwright and Screenwriter, Pass Over (Broadway), She's Gotta Have It (Netflix)

"I love this book! It is a clear-eyed, direct, practical guide for playwrights of all experience levels."

Allison Horsley, Broadway Dramaturg and Translator, Jersey Boys, The Cherry Orchard

"Goldfinger’s workbook combines well curated examples with engaging exercises and evocative writing prompts to create an endless array of customizable approaches to playwriting. It speaks to the full range of those interested in creating scripted drama - students and teachers, novices and experts."

David S. Thompson, Agnes Scott College, Georgia

"A refereshing and galvanizing treatise on the craft of playwriting. Great for emerging playwrights!"

Yussef El Guindi, Award-Winning Playwright, Back of the Throat, Language Rooms

"Read this book now. It is a gift to our students and our industry. It's going to revolutionize how we teach playwriting."

Jessica Bashline, Director-Actor, Theatre Professor at University of Miami

"I'm going to put this book on the Required Reading list for acting and directing classes. Actors and directors need to know how plays function in order to do their best work."

Margaret Laurena Kemp, Multi- Disciplinary Performance Artist, Theatre Professor at University of California, Davis

"[Goldfinger’s] book — a primer really — is positive, practical, and concise, with twelve economical chapters and a set of appendices. […] Playwrights reading the book might wish to have pen and paper at hand, or they might want to read the book in front of their computer with their fingers poised above the keyboard. The exercises, such as the character development questionnaires and the use of visual art to stimulate creativity, are indeed a strength here. […] The approach in Playwriting with Purpose feels just right: to write a full-length play can feel overwhelming at first, but to write a monologue feels just right. Start small. The other day my fifth-grade daughter told me Confucius said, 'The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.' My advice? If the mountain is your play, let Goldfinger help you carry away some small stones."

Amy R. Martin, Southern Review of Books