Six Tips for Submitting a Winning Playwright Discovery Script

2015 VSA Playwright Discovery logo

Do you know a budding playwright or screenwriter? The annual VSA Playwright Discovery Program invites young writers with and without disabilities, U.S. grades 6–12 or ages 11–18 for non-U.S. students, to explore the disability experience through the art of script writing for the stage or screen. The 2015 competition is open to students both in the U.S. and around the world.

Before your students apply online at www.kennedy-center.org/PDP, encourage them to consider the following tips for creating a winning script.

  1. Address the topic of disability in a meaningful way. Be thoughtful about how you incorporate disability into your script, and try to avoid clichés. Check out the playwriting resources available on the Kennedy Center’s website, including a series of short essays on the disability experience written by theater professionals with disabilities.
  2. Thoroughly develop the plot. Vary the stakes throughout your story to increase the sense of mystery and interest. Incorporate plot twists and subplots, but remember to resolve them.
  3. Pace the action well and sustain interest throughout. Many scripts have promising starts, but convenient or rushed conclusions. If the plot unfolds throughout your script, you will keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
  4. Make your characters believable and compelling. The characters in your play should elicit an emotional or intellectual response from your audience. Work on making them relatable and give them opportunities to learn and grow throughout the story.
  5. Use dialogue effectively. Dialogue is the playwright’s tool to further character development and express a range of human emotions. It should also reflect the writer’s language skills and a sense of natural speech patterns.
  6. Make your script your own. Tell a story that is unique, complex, and surprising, and your script will stand out!

The 2015 VSA Playwright Discovery Program is accepting applications until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, April 13. For more information or to apply, visit www.kennedy-center.org/PDP.

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