Playwriting Exercise: Fun With Words Introduction

Don’t miss out on the PDF version of today’s exercise at the end of this post!

Over the next three Saturdays we’re going to have some fun with words. Theatrical fun of course! And actually it’s both Friday and Saturday. The guessing part of this exercise will happen over on our Facebook page on Friday afternoon. (Are you on our Facebook page? Really fun stuff happens over there. Truly. Get on board)

Wait, there’s a guessing game? How much more fun is this going to get? Are there ponies? And cake?

Sorry no cake, no ponies. Only playwriting. I know. Contain your disappointment… with writing!

Here’s the deal. There are many words out there that mean a phrase, their definition is practically a sentence. I love those words, it’s so cool to take one word and have it mean so much. For example:

Aposiopesis: a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.

That is a mouthful! And a word I’ve never heard of, let alone ever heard it used in a sentence. There’s a little more about the word on “A deliberate failure to complete a sentence…indicates rage or exasperation….”

That gets me thinking. I can see a character in that word. I can see a conversation in that word. I hope you’re starting to see the possibilities in turning words that mean so much into a playwriting exercise.

We’re going to take a word that has a jam-packed meaning and use it as the jumping off point for a two person, one location scene. But we’re going to take it one step further and use words from other languages, like this one:

Pana Po?o (Hawaiian) – the act of scratching your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

I love that! I’ll post the link where I got all these words at the end of the three weeks. So not only do you have a word that means a mouthful, but we’re using words that at first glance you have no idea what they mean. You could only take a wild stab at it, which is precisely what I want you to do. And that’s the next part of this exercise.

I want you to guess the word in a theatrical context. I’ll be posting the word for our Saturday exercise on our Facebook page on Friday afternoon. Go there, look at the word and think with your imagination instead of your logic. Don’t worry about what the word actually means, I’ll tell you on Saturday. And no peeking! Don’t search for the definition.

Look at the word. Think about how it sounds. And just on pure imagination come up with a definition. Onomatopoeia that word. You could even go further – explore the word in a theatrical context, write a monologue using that word.

And if that’s too much work? No worries! Come here each Saturday, see what the word means and do the exercise using the word as it was intended.

So here’s the lowdown:

  • Next Friday, go to Facebook, see the word, use your imagination to come up with a definition, perhaps write a monologue.
  • Meet me back here on Saturday where I’ll tell you what the word means and give you a playwriting exercise in context.

Today, we’ll start with a warm-up. That Aposiopesis word is really speaking to me, so let’s make it the focus of this week’s exercise.

Playwriting Exercise

  • The word Aposiopesis means to suddenly and deliberately fail to complete a sentence. To break off mid-sentence.
  • Write a scene between a husband and wife that takes place in the kitchen at 9am.
  • The husband reveals to the wife. The wife reacts by not being able to complete a sentence. All her dialogue must break off mid-sentence.
  • Make this a comedy.

Sept 7 Playwriting JPG

Download a PDF copy of the Exercise here!

About the author

Lindsay Price