Book Review: ‘Writing the 10-Minute Play’

writing-the-10-minute-playI’ve been wanting to write a play for the past year or so. I’ve written several screenplays before but writing a play just seemed so daunting. I have an idea that I think is great and interesting but just sitting down and putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – seems like a monumental task.

But then, in the midst of all of my hemming-and-hawing, I got an opportunity to review Glenn Alterman‘s, Writing the 10-Minute Play.

Perfect timing, right?

I’d honestly never thought about writing a 10-Minute play before. But after reading the book, I’m totally chomping at the bit to start.

Alterman is an actor and now acting coach in New York City and he’s been writing monologues and 10-minute plays for a while now, winning over 40 playwriting competitions. He writes the book from an actors perspective, which makes the thought of actually writing a play more inviting. Writing a play can almost be easier for actors, he says. We are always asking, “What does my character want?” and in playwriting, we get to ask, “What do my lead characters want?,” he writes.

In the book, he guides you through the whole process, “beginning with the skills, knowledge and experience” we already have as actors. And it’s true. He doesn’t make it seem easy but he makes it seem like any of us can site down and write something we can be proud of.

He starts off with formatting – no special software needed – finding the right title, and what to do after the first draft and beyond. From there, he moves onto how he begins his writing process. For instance, he usually starts off with a line on dialogue he’s either heard someone say in real life or one that’s popped into his head. From there, he brainstorms and riffs until he’s got words on the page. Almost like improvising, right? He also goes into what to do after the play is finished; where and how you should submit it.

One thing I thought was interesting is that he suggested that we (actors) shouldn’t appear in the plays we write (at least the first production of it). I can understand his logic – that we may intimidate the other actors or our director and we may be too close to the material.

Finally, Alterman interviews some playwrights and producers, giving insight to the process and also what happens on the other side of the fence in producing 10-Minute play festivals and shows. And for reference, he’s got 3 plays we can read at the end of the book.

It’s a really quick read and if you’re even remotely interested in writing a play, you’ll be glad you picked up a copy.

Leave a Reply
Laura Linney: “The thing that makes the theater different from any other art form: it’s time”
Linney cast's some light on why revivals in theater are looked at differently than their television and film counterparts.
Corey Hawkins: “I grew up a theater nerd”
"The fun of it and the challenge of it is to take the play — to take the text — and make it your own, to find it your own way" - Corey Hawkins on Theater
Sally Field on Performing on Broadway: “You’re so totally and utterly and completely alive”
Field reveals how the lack of intermission helps her maintain her energy and why she decided to return to Broadway after a nearly 15-year break.
Watch: SAG Conversations with Geoffrey Rush of ‘Genius’
Rush speaks at length about his career and portraying who many consider to be the wisest man of the 20th century.
Ben Platt on How He Found Himself Starring in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
"Every day is a different sort of vibe and feeling. It can be impacted by anything from like, "Is it raining outside?" to "Are there a lot of old people?"" - Ben Platt