The Architecture of Story: A Technical Guide for the Dramatic Writer (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

While successful plays tend to share certain storytelling elements, there is no single blueprint for how a play should be constructed. Instead, seasoned playwrights know how to select the right elements for their needs and organize them in a structure that best supports their particular story.

Through his workshops and book The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, Will Dunne has helped thousands of writers develop successful scripts. Now, in The Architecture of Story, he helps writers master the building blocks of dramatic storytelling by analyzing a trio of award-winning contemporary American plays: Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, and The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. Dismantling the stories and examining key components from a technical perspective enables writers to approach their own work with an informed understanding of dramatic architecture.

Each self-contained chapter focuses on one storytelling component, ranging from “Title” and “Main Event” to “Emotional Environment” and “Crisis Decision.”  Dunne explores each component in detail, demonstrating how it has been successfully handled in each play and comparing and contrasting techniques.  The chapters conclude with questions to help writers evaluate and improve their own scripts. The result is a nonlinear reference guide that lets writers work at their own pace and choose the topics that interest them as they develop new scripts. This flexible, interactive structure is designed to meet the needs of writers at all stages of writing and at all levels of experience.

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we'll navigate the path to publishing success.

2 Comments

  1. Serious about dramatic writing? Look no further – help has arrived. Fantastic new resource from generous writer and teacher Will Dunne. Clever multi-use structure, conversational in tone, with challenging questions for your own scripts. Illuminating analysis of three modern plays. I look forward to working with The Architecture of Story for forever. Be sure to check out Will Dunne’s earlier book: The Dramatic Writer’s Companion – it has helped my writing immensely.

  2. … you would want in a guide to becoming a better writer: an understanding of how a dramatic story … Everything you would want in a guide to becoming a better writer: an understanding of how a dramatic story works, and how to apply it to your own work. Not only is it helpful but it is fun to read. Worth every penny.

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