Playwriting Exercise: What’s in a Word?

playwriting exercises

For the month of December we’re pulling our Saturday Playwriting Exercises from the past and adding something extra. We only started including a PDF download of these exercises in August, so this month we’ll be taking previously posted exercises and adding that download. This way you can print these exercises off easily and take them wherever you want.


Did you know that the word moment actually used to mean a specific time? It’s so general now – Just a moment….. I’ll be there in a moment…. wait a moment.”  In medieval time a moment meant 90 seconds. It had a precise measure. Why? I don’t know but what a wonderful thing it is. And how interesting that the meaning has shifted over time.

I love finding words that have change their meanings over the centuries. Dismal, for example, used to mean unlucky but now has a much more gloomy connotation. Awful used to mean “inspire wonder” it was a form of “awe.” Now it gives us the opposite emotion. Nice started out with negative connotations – ignorant and foolish.

Playwriting Exercises

  • Research and find a word that has changed its meaning over time. Write a one page scene where you use the word in its original meaning. For example use the word “awful” to describe someone as full of awe.
  • Write a scene between the original meaning of a word and the current meaning. So for example a scene between two version of the word “nice.”
  • Decide on a word that we currently use, that will fade away in a 100 years. Write a scene that takes place in the future where characters are bemused and confused by this “archaic” word.
  • Write a scene that centres around a word trying to up its usage so that it doesn’t fall out of favour.

Click here to download a PDF version of this exercise. 


About the author

Lindsay Price