How to convert a Story into a Play: This post comes out as a whim on my part amidst the common story writing posts and travels. But with my previous article being on how to write a play, I’d to make this as I’ve gone further on playing with my short dramas and short stories.
In my previous article, I’d also shared a stage play on ‘Pinggu, the Monkey‘ as an example. Here’s a backstory to why I converted that play to a story later on:
I had a theatre class examination at my University. The test was to narrate or act out a play live on the online class. With the lack of time and ideas back then, I decided to narrate the Pinggu drama itself in the form of a short story.
So I quickly drafted up the stage play in the form of a story and passed with flying colors! There are a few key elements that change when it comes to adapting a play into a story. So here’s how to convert a story into a play!
How to Convert a Story into a Play – Story Dramatisation
Be it called how to adapt a play, how to dramatize a story, or how to turn a story into a play – they all refer to the same process. This process can also go the other way by converting a play into a story.
While these tips help you to adapt whichever format of writing, many details depend on your requirements. The length of the play, budget, and availability of special effects – all come into the picture.
Here are some essential tips on how to convert a story into a play:
- Summarize and pick out its main plot
- List out the key characters from the story
- Design your Acts and overall layout of the play
- Focus less on descriptions and more on action
- Link the play well in order of the story events.
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1. Summarize the Story and Pick out its Main Plot
The first thing to do on how to convert a story into a play is to summarize your story. Bring in a synopsis, the whole plot of the short story into a single idea.
Leave out the minute details that can’t be portrayed in plays. Descriptions of characters’ faces, expressions, and hand gestures don’t play important roles as they do in stories.
Unless the details add to the plot, exclude the descriptions from your summary. Depending on your play’s requirement, you can add or remove dialogues or descriptive details from the play. The summary of the story draws a skeletal structure for your play.
It’s similar to going through edits of the story to get its final form.
2. List out the Key Characters
The word ‘key’ here is significant. Not every character has to be in a play. Stories, being the long descriptive form they are, have no constraints on the events.
However, that’s what makes stage playwriting a challenge. Stage plays deal more with real-world constraints and less of audience imagination. Some reasons to cut down on the characters:
- The stage gets overcrowded with people
- The audience is confused about the many roles.
- More actors simply cannot be hired on the budget.
In these cases, look at cutting down the characters to a minimum. Simmer out the characters that don’t add to the plot.
3. Design your Acts and Layout
Dealing with the hurdles of theatrical dramas again, they have a limit to the landscapes of the story taking place.
With the short story in mind, bring the play into a set of Acts. Most plays have 2-3 acts/landscapes, so stick down your events in groups. With the plot being the same, play around with the story and create a suitable order of events.
4. Focus less on Descriptions
Similar to the first step, filter out the unnecessary detailing once more. While short stories shouldn’t require weeding out long descriptions, novels and novellas do.
A book takes a reader through every movement of the key roles – every emotion, every eyebrow raise, and dialogue. A play doesn’t have that luxury with the large audience sitting afar from the exhibit.
Along with descriptions, consider excluding some dialogues. But be careful about what you remove. Not all character dialogues add up to the main plot, but they can bring out a message subtly to its audience. Even a few words, one-word dialogues, or a silent gesture can bring a huge impact!
5. Link the play in the order of events
Here’s where the beauty of a play is – an audience never gets bored of the same story played by different people. They can watch the same story before them a hundred times with different characters, settings, and directions, and it’ll still remain fresh.
Well, provided they love the story in the first place, of course. Some plays are obvious – Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s series, Pinocchio, and Peter pan. The costumes for such plays immediately bring out the familiar story to its audience.
But others are more story-oriented. So make sure to keep the order of significant events in the story to make it recognizable. Changing up the minute actions is fine, things that go unnoticed in the overall view.
But try to stick to the storyline as close as possible and improvise only if necessary. It’s essential when speaking of how to convert a story into a play.
Note: Last but not least, don’t forget to go through multiple drafts before completing your play. Check for mistakes. Use Grammarly for proofreading. While the free version is enough for minor edits, the Grammarly premium helps out with the tone, behavior, and much more. Read my review on Grammarly.
Adapting a story from a Play
Most of the time, it’s about adapting a play from a story. However, there are times when one wishes to develop a story script from a play.
While we try and bring down the story to the real-world constraints with fewer descriptions, it’s the opposite with adapting a story script from a play. Observing the play script, elaborate descriptions, and add more touch to the emotions and gestures when you’re drafting the story.
Feel free to add in your touch of luring the readers with your writing style and words here. There’s more of an advantage here; It’s left to the story writer’s imaginations to where the story strides.
Tailpiece to how to convert a Story into a Play
That concludes on how to convert a story into a play. Regarding the format of a play, there isn’t much apart from the character along with their dialogues, acts segregation, and narration.
Speaking of narration, there’s no hard and fast of the narrator to be on or off the stage. It’s left to one’s convenience. That finished this piece on how to convert a story into a play.
Happy writing :)
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