Drama depends on PLOT.
What is plot?
Plot is the sequence of connected events that make up a story.
The most important thing to realise about plot is that the events in your plot cannot be random: they have to happen because of each other – in this way they are connected.
For instance, “ The king died, then the queen died, then a wizard became king,” is not a plot.
A plot would be: “The king died. The devoted Queen, heartbroken, died of grief. The court wizard, seeing an opportunity, announced himself as king.”
You can see here that each portion of the story can only happen BECAUSE THE PREVIOUS PART HAS HAPPENED.
If the king hadn’t died, the queen might have lived, preventing the wizard from assuming power. See what we mean?
If the plot is the ‘what’ of a story, we can call the structure the ‘how’.
The 5 stage structure
Most stories and plays that we encounter nowadays follow a five-stage structure. This structure can be noticed in the majority of novels, films and plays, and is common. It is, however, not the only way to structure a story! But for your first play, it provides a safe, effective set of rules to work with.
1. Exposition: Think of this as the set up. In this portion of the play, the writer establishes the setting, some of the characters, and introduces the conflict.
2. Rising Action: Here is where the conflict triggers a chain of events, moving the story forward. One event sets off another, each time complicating the story slightly, and making things more intense.
3. The Climax : This is the point that gets reached which has the biggest emotional intensity. The drama has built and built, until the pressure can’t be contained any more.
4. Falling action. The climax has happened, so the story starts to slow down.
5. The denouement. This is a fancy word for the ending, where things are resolved in some way, or the story reaches some form of conclusion
Let’s look at how these stages work.
Here is a byte-sized play we’ve created how each of these stages operate.
There are three characters, one cat and two dogs.
From their dialogue, you should be able to tell what is happening.
CAT: I can’t believe they left us here.
GIRL DOG: I know. Surely it was a mistake, though?
CAT: They probably got tired of your barking.
GIRL DOG: Don’t be mean. I’m sure they’ll come get us soon.
BOY DOG: I once heard a story about some humans who didn’t want their pets any more and left them somewhere and then never came back.
GIRL DOG: Our owners would never do that!
CAT: I’m not sure about that.
BOY DOG: What’s that smell?
CAT: What smell?
GIRL DOG: I smell it too. Is it coming from that cave?
BOY DOG: I think so.
CAT: I can’t smell anything!!
GIRL DOG: (to Boy Dog) I told you, cats can’t smell as well as dogs.
CAT: (indignantly) I heard that!
BOY DOG: Let’s go check it out.
CAT: Never. That’s the problem with dogs. You always want to go TOWARD danger.
GIRL DOG: We’ve nothing better to do. Besides, inside a cave could be warm.
CAT: There could be a wild animal inside.
GIRL DOG: If there is, it might have something to eat.
CAT: (considering this) Hm, you might have a point.
BOY DOG: Let’s go. It’s just round those bushes I think.
GIRL DOG: Slow down! Not all of us are as young as you!
CAT: And stop splashing so much, you’re getting mud on me.
GIRL DOG: What was that sound?
CAT: Whatever it was, I didn’t like it. Look, my hair is standing up.
BOY DOG: Now I’m more curious than ever!
CAT: Curious, curious, don’t you know curiosity can get you killed?
BOY DOG: I smell food though, come on. Look, there’s the opening of the cave mouth.
GIRL DOG: What if it’s a person?
CAT: A person in a cave? Whoever heard of something as crazy as that?
GIRL DOG: Maybe Cat is right. It might be dangerous. I’m the oldest. I’m responsible for what happens to you and I –
CAT: He’s already going in!
GIRL DOG: Wait!
( A nasty and violent scuffle is happening in the cave)
BOY DOG: Rrrrrowr!
GIRL DOG: It’s a baboon! Quick! Run away!
CAT: Help! It’s trying to eat me!
GIRL DOG: Bite it! Hit it!
BOY DOG: I’m trying! Its claws are scary though!
GIRL DOG: (roaring) LET GO OF MY FRIEND!!
Girl Dog launches herself at the baboon, which emits a piercing scream, then runs away.
GIRL DOG Are you alright? Oh my word, you’re bleeding!
BOY DOG: It’s ok. What was that, a hairy child? It had such an ugly face.
CAT: (laughing) Ha ha ha, no silly, it was a baboon!
BOY DOG: Whatever it was, it had terribly bad breath. (To Girl Dog) You were very brave.
GIRL DOG: (shyly) I knew you would do the same for me.
BOY DOG: What?
CAT: A car!
BOY DOG: It’s them!
GIRL DOG: It’s really them!
BOY: I knew they would come back! Didn’t I say I knew?
CAT: The lady human is crying, look!
The animals rush toward their owners.
LADY: Oh! Oh! We’re so sorry! We thought you were in the boot!
GIRL DOG: Woof woof!
MAN: I’m so glad you guys are all safe.
LADY: Oh, I was so worried!
MAN: (opening the boot) In you get, you lot!