Use a picture as a jumping off point for writing.
Sometimes all students need is a little push to get the writing ball rolling. Use pictures for that push. You can have students create source material for a scene or monologue. You can use pictures as a character development exercise. Use pictures with landscapes or with people. There are endless opportunities.
All of these exercises can be downloaded below in a printable PDF.
Give students a picture and take them through a question/answer session. This will give students a method of analyzing a photo as a first step toward writing a monologue or scene.
Give students a photo that features a person. Have them create a character based on their interpretation of the person in the photo.
Answer the following questions.
Divide students into groups and have them share their answers. How are the answers similar and how they are different? How do the students see the character and why did they answer the way they did?
As a class, have a discussion about how they perceive people from the outside. How can an exercise like this help them develop characters for plays?
Use photos to prompt students to think specifically about different locations. Beginning writers often stick to what they know when it comes to locations, and unique photos can show them theatrical possibilities. Also, beginning writers equate theatre locations to movie locations. It is, of course, impossible to stage a scene as realistically as a movie. When students try and inevitably fail, they think it’s because they’re poor writers. If you can prompt students to take something real that they see in a photo and change it to suit the stage, they will start to create a habit of theatrical thinking.
Respond to the questions and activities below using this photo.
The best way to get better at a genre of writing is to practice it. So the way to become a better playwright is to practice writing monologues and scenes. The more students practice, the more comfortable they’ll become. Instead of giving students a blanket direction to ‘write a monologue,’ use photos to provide a starting point. There’s a story, a character, at the very least a photograph on which to base the monologue.
Use the photo above as a starting point for a monologue.
Start by asking questions of the photo (who, what, when, where, why), create a character profile (Who is the girl? What’s her name? What’s her most important relationship?), and do some automatic writing on the location. Then use one of the following prompts to write a monologue.