Friday, May 13, 2016

Scriptwriting: Biblical Truth From the Stage

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

I love drama. I love how it visually projects truth in a non-confrontational way. I love how it can have us laughing one moment and contemplating the complex issues of life the next.

Jesus loved drama, too. His parables are truth presented in a visual, non-confrontational way. They have us laughing one moment (I mean, a camel going through the eye of a needle? Someone carrying around a log in his eye?) and contemplating the weight of sin the next.
Here are some things to consider if you feel called to write drama, whether for your church or for publication:
  • What message do you want to get across? Just as with other kinds of writing, there must be a take-away. Do you want your audience to consider their choices? See Christ in a different way? See themselves as others see them?
  • Use common events, actions, thoughts the audience can identify with. Jesus used equipment, people, careers, and needs common to the time and place.
  • Create believable dialog. One of the biggest mistakes I see is addressing characters by name too often. Like this:

            “John, I thought you were going to the store.
            “No, Phil, I didn’t have time to go.”
            “That’s too bad, John. They had a great sale going on.”
            “Aw, Phil, I wish I had known that.”

      Think about your own conversations. Do you repeat the other person's
      name over and over in real conversation? No. And you shouldn't in a script,
Consider stage limitations.
  • Consider stage limitations. Consider stage space, mics, props, costumes, and casting. The more complex the needs, the less opportunity for others to use your script.
  • Be sure to include a "Wow factor." I often read scripts that are simply a retelling of events: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. That's fine if you're simply demonstrating a Bible story, but it's not going to be enough if you're creating a new story. There needs to be something that takes the common situation and creates an uncommon turn of events. Humor, absurdity, or shock; an unusual character or story development; and a surprise twist are all compelling "Wow factors" that can take your script from interesting to memorable.
Do you desire to write compelling drama that will draw others to Him? If so, these guidelines can help you take the first steps to writing biblical truth that can be powerfully shared from the stage.

Have you ever written or participated in a play or drama? In your experience, what worked well? What didn’t? Don’t forget to join the conversation.

Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at

1 comment:

  1. My experience with drama has been one of stage designer. Your message today helps in the transition of designer to writer. Teach on!