Playwriting Exercise: Happy Birthday to Me

Birthdays are wonderful character development material because every human being has an immediate emotional reaction to their birthday. It could be that the character hates getting older or isn’t getting older fast enough. Or that the character is alone on their birthday. Or that they have the best birthday party ever but it isn’t enough. You could write on the concept of birthdays – why do we celebrate getting older? What do cake and candles have to do with birthdays anyway? What if everyone forgot my birthday.

The possibilities are endless. Here are 15 birthday prompts to kickstart the writing process!

1. Write a monologue in which a character prepares to take a potion on her birthday so she’ll never get older.

2. Write a monologue in which a character is on the eve of an important birthday. What is their emotional state and why? What does this specific birthday mean?

3. Write a scene in which two parents try to convince their son to come out of his room for his birthday party. Why has the son locked himself in his room? What do the parents do to convince the son? Who wins in the end?

4. Write the monologue of the son in the above scenario, as he sits in his room.

5. Write a scene between a teen and her parents in which the parents seem to have forgotten the teens birthday. Re-write this scene in which it’s clear the parents are only messing with the teen.

6. Write a monologue in which a girl reacts to the truly horrible present her boyfriend has just given her. Indicate what the present does, looks like, maybe even smells like without coming out and saying what the gift is.

7. Write a monologue in which a boy freaks out over getting the exact right present for his girlfriend’s birthday.

8. Write a monologue in which a twin prepares to do something drastic so they don’t have to share a birthday.

9. Write a monologue in which a child expresses how much he hates his birthday because it’s the day he gets a cheap, lame card from his absentee dad.

10. Write a scene in which three teens work on remembering their fake names and birthdays on their fake ids.

11. Write a scene in which two best friends complain about not being invited to the “birthday party of the year.” Why weren’t they invited?

12. Write a scene in which one friend is invited to the “birthday part of the year” and the other isn’t.

13. Write a scene in which a girl actually gets a pony for her birthday and she has no idea what to do with it.

14. Write a monologue in which a boy lies about his age so he can enlist.

15. Write a scene between a pregnant woman in labour and her husband. They both want the baby to be born on January First. The baby has another agenda.

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