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Advanced Playwriting

Course Code: CRWR 3102
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Creative Writing
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Advanced Playwriting builds on the dialogue and scene development skills taught in the Introduction to Playwriting course. Students will learn to structure their plays in scenes and acts, and develop strong character arcs and plot twists. They will write a small-cast, full-length play (approximately 60 minutes). Although the emphasis will be on student work, in-depth analysis of various theatrical styles (solo shows, realism, absurdist, cabaret, etc.) will inform the workshop process. Students will explore the elements of theatre (set, lighting, costume and use of mixed media), attend the production of at least one play, and learn about the process of submitting work to theatre companies. Plays will be workshopped in class.

Course Content

Selected reading of and from texts.

Students’ scenes and plays will form the bulk of the course content.

Methods of Instruction

The following methods may be combined with the workshop format:

  • in-class writing exercises
  • lectures and discussions
  • group readings/presentations of scripts
  • assigned readings and class presentations
  • attending the performance of a play
  • watching DVD production of plays
  • written feedback from instructor on assigned work
  • interviews with instructor

Means of Assessment

A 50 - 60 page script in proper playwriting format, a one-page synopsis, preparatory scenes, in-class exercises and an outline are all required.  Plays will be workshopped and receive oral feedback from both the instructor and fellow students. An oral presentation analyzing specific aspects of a play performance will be graded.  Class participation is essential.  All students will participate in readings and will be expected to offer feedback on the plays that are workshopped.

Students are required to attend 80% of the workshops. A student missing more than 20% of the workshops without receiving prior permission from the instructor will receive a zero in class participation. Leaving or arriving at the break is considered one-half an absence

Learning Outcomes

General Objectives:

Advanced Playwriting focuses on the writing of a small-cast or solo show full-length play.  The three-act structure will be used as the primary model.  A discussion about local playwriting markets and theatre companies will give students an overview of opportunities for emerging playwrights.

Specific Objectives:


  1. Students will explore and pitch topics suitable for full-length development.
  2. Students will attend the production of a professional play and examine how set, lighting, mixed media, directing and acting shape the production of a script.


  1. Students will develop the premise for their script by writing an outline and creating character profiles.
  2. Students will learn to develop the voice, range and arc of their major characters through dialogue and scene building.
  3. Students will learn how to avoid clichés and predictability in both plot and character.
  4. The three-act structure will be explored as a means of developing conflict, plot points and a climax.


  1. Students will read scripts in order to understand the structure, demands and challenges of creating a full-length script.
  2. Students will read the work of their peers in order to enhance their own analytical skills as well as to help their peers in the effective revision of their work.
  3. Students will participate in reading each other’s scripts out loud to test voice, dialogue, pacing and conflict.
  4. Students will read a required text on playwriting technique, such as The Art of Dramatic Writing, in order to understand how to navigation the challenge of writing good dramatic scripts.


  1. Students will learn to make use of insights gained from their instructor’s and peers’ workshop comments to revise their writing.
  2. Students will develop their skills in giving and receiving constructive criticism in the workshop.
  3. Student will learn to cut, rearrange and create new scenes in order to maximize tension, conflict and character development.
  4. Students will learn to tighten the transitions and segues between scenes.

Preparing Work for Submission:

  1. Students will learn to write a synopsis based on their completed work.
  2. Students will learn about opportunities and markets for the local production of stage plays.

course prerequisites

30 University Transfer Credits and CRWR 2200 with a minimum grade of B


(CRWR 1102 with a minimum grade of B and any CRWR 2nd level course).

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.