Plot and Dialogue

Lesson 4: Plot and Dialogue


Lesson Objective: Students will demonstrate their ability to revise their own work by writing and revising part of their ten minute scenes in class.



TH:Cr3.1.8 – Use repetition and analysis in order to revise devised or scripted drama/theatre work.



Have students sit in a circle. One person will start with a sentence about anything and the class must continue telling the story. Go around the circle and let each student continue the story, contributing only one sentence to the story each. Instruct students beforehand to be aware of where they are in the story (if they’re in the middle, they might want to begin resolving conflicts and working toward a climax. if they are close to the end, they will need to begin wrapping the story up).


Step 1:

After the students tell their story, have them remain in a circle and have a brief class discussion.


Was it frustrating to not be able to take the story where you wanted it to go? To say what you wanted to say? Did you feel limited being able to only say one sentence or to only be able to do one thing like conclude the story? Those of you in particular points like the middle and the end had a little more pressure on you to find the high and low points of the story. What did you change about your sentence as the story evolved and then finally got to you? Why did you have to change your idea? (because of time constraints, because of the requirement to wrap up the story, etc.)


As we write any play, but particularly a ten minute play, we need to be aware of our restrictions. Time is a restriction. Our play can’t be five hours long. The medium of theatre is a restriction. As we discussed a few lessons ago when we talked about the difference between a short story and a play, we cannot describe everything in great detail or narrate what characters are feeling. We have to SHOW our audience where we are and actors need to SHOW the audience what characters are feeling. We have to limit how much we change scenes or do montages like you see a lot in movies.


Step 2:

Have students get into groups of 3 and share a brief summary of their 2-3 story ideas. They will get feedback based on their peers based on the following questions.


Does the story have each of the plot elements?

Can the story be told in ten minutes? What can be added or cut to fit the criteria?

Does it have a strong start?

Do the character actions and relationships interest you? Does the audience care about them?

Does the audience remain interested throughout?

Does it have a strong ending?


Step 3:

Have students make revisions to their plot summaries/story ideas individually. After 3-4 minutes, instruct students to begin writing their ten minute plays on their own. Have them pick one of the story ideas they came up with and just start writing everything that comes to mind. Go around and help students as necessary, guiding them to make bold choices and helping them feel confident in an idea or to revise their ideas.


Step 4:

After about 10-15 minutes of writing, have students say their written lines of dialogue out loud. Ask them to think about how the line sounds, if it feels true to life hearing it out loud. AFter about two minutes, ask students to make necessary revisions and then get with a partner.


Step 5:

Have partners swap scripts and read lines of dialogue from their partner’s script aloud. They will give feedback to their peers on how easy the lines are to say aloud, how they sound, if they feel true to life.


Step 6:

For the remainder of class, have students continue working on their scripts individually. They are expected to bring copies of their plot diagrams to class NEXT TIME as well as whatever they have completed of their script. It needs to be at least a page.