To write a play you need to follow formatting rules to make it easy for the reader to follow.

List of characters

In a play, you start off with naming your characters and give a short description of who they are. Your characters’ names should be written in CAPITAL LETTERS.

For example:

ASIPHE: a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl
PETRA: Asiphe’s best friend
THANDILE: Petra’s older brother
MAMA: Petra’s mother

Setting out the dialogue

When you start writing, you put the name of the character and then the exact words they say. Then you leave a line when speakers change. Here is an example below. Write the characters’ names in CAPS.

ASIPHE: What’s in that big bag of yours?

PETRA: Books from the library! I have a history project and found some interesting stories. Now you tell me – what’s in your bag?

ASIPHE: I have a present for you. I made it myself. Do you want to see it?

PETRA: Oh yes please! What is it? I can’t wait…

Notice there are no inverted commas in the dialogue above (“ or”). But there ARE other punctuation marks such as full stops and exclamation marks.

Other information

If you are giving any details that are NOT the spoken words of the characters you put them in italics and in (brackets). You can put these details in between the spoken words and also in brackets next to the names. It is up to you how much detail you put in.


(Petra and Asiphe walk together to Asiphe’s house and knock.)

THANDILE (opening the door): Ooh what have you got there, Petra, that looks amazing. Can I see?

PETRA (hiding her bag behind her back): Hey this is private!

Notice how the words that are not the character’s names and not the words that are spoken are in italics and in (brackets).

If you choose to tell some of your story NOT in play format, then that also needs to be in italics and in (brackets).

For example:

(Three years later, Petra came back from her university and Asiphe came back from her art school. Petra came to visit Asiphe with a new present that would change both of their lives…)