Creative Writing Tips For A Dramatic Play

by chefkeem

Use these creative writing tips to turn your flat story line into a highly dramatic play that will elicit emotions from your audience.

For the protagonist and his goals, the path to fulfillment must lead through a series of positive learning experiences. In the drama musical ELISABETH, for instance, the young Empress must overcome her insecurities around her powerful mother-in-law and the strict protocol of the Viennese Court, before she can reclaim control of her own lifestyle.

Choosing a protagonist

The main character and hero of your story
  • A protagonist's actions, experiences, sufferings and successes are the main components of your story. It is better to avoid featuring more than one hero; focus instead on the fascinating development of only one main figure.
  • Whatever happens to the protagonist is no coincidence. Throughout the story he reveals various aspects of his character, and his subsequent behavior determines the continuation of the story.
  • The protagonist should be an active person; a mover and shaker who drives the story forward.
  • He or she should be human - not all good, not all bad. The audience must be able to easily identify with his mental and emotional challenges and reactions.
  • During the play our hero should grow and learn something, so at the end of the story he or she has become a different, better person than in the beginning. 


Elisabeth - the heroine of Michael Kunze's drama musical reclaims her personal freedom from the bondage of the Court protocol

Listen to her song: "I belong to me" (halfway through this video)

The Antagonist

creates tension, aggression, set-backs, suspense...
  • The antagonist has the same goal as the hero of our story, but she comes from a different angle and may employ different strategies. In the example of ELISABETH, the Emperor's mother wants to control Elisabeth's lifestyle. So does the young Empress. Their struggle means drama. Big time. 
  • The stronger and more threatening the antagonist - the greater the tension and drama in our story.
  • The antagonist must not necessarily be evil or mean. Her desires may be based on commonly respected values. Indeed, the best antagonistic character may even elicit agreement, if not empathy, from the audience.
  • Much dramatic depth can be gained from the repeated clash of two different value and belief systems, although both strive for the same result.
  • The race to the finish line, the final showdown - that creates drama!

Other dramatic elements and characters...

  • A love story can be a wonderful dramatic element, if it is crucially connected to the protagonist's quest. It may illuminate and clarify the hero's problems for the audience.
  • A mentor who is greatly admired by our main character can also significantly contribute to a better understanding of the protagonist's decisions.
  • A trickster tries to create discord and confusion. He may offer alternative maneuvers destined to slow down or distract our hero.   

Creative writing tips from the master

Drama workshop with Michael Kunze

Dr. Michael Kunze's proven methods of structuring a dramatic story have filled musical theatre houses in Europe and Japan, over and over again. His hit-musicals ELISABETH, REBECCA, DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, MOZART! and MARIE ANTOINETTE belong to the most successful European drama musicals of the 20th century. REBECCA's Broadway premiere is scheduled for April 22, 2012. To learn more, go to Michael Kunze's website - Musical Workshop Masterclass - and watch videos of his drama workshops and musicals. 

More articles on musical drama by Michael Kunze

REBECCA, the European Hit Musical by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, will have its Broadway premiere October 30, 2012. Update: The show has been cancelled!
Read about Marie Antoinette quotes and facts along with historic pictures, video and info on the hit-musical by Michael Kunze.
Watch the European hit-musical ELISABETH in videos with English subtitles. Read the amazing story of Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.
Dr. Kunze is the most successful librettist in the history of German musical theater. His musical workshop is based on his unique structure of a dramatic story...
Updated: 11/19/2012, chefkeem
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I hope you can use this small selection of creative writing tips. Please leave a dramatic comment, will ya?

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DerdriuMarriner on 10/16/2018

chefkeem, Thank you for all the cues and links. Did you know that the video is not accessible any more? Good thing I have the links to Dr. Kunze's information and works elsewhere.

georgebass on 09/14/2016

Thanks for sharing! I guess these archetypes make the creative process easier.

chefkeem on 03/29/2013

Great news, Katie. Congratulations! :)

katiem2 on 03/29/2013

Just wanted to let you know you've inspired me to complete a play I had in the works and am thrilled with the outcome. Thanks for all the many supportive tools you provide fellow writers with to stay motivated all the while improving our craft. Much Appreciated, Katie :)

AndyGerenraich on 02/04/2012

The trickster is my favorite archetype! I love this article, thanks.

katiem2 on 01/20/2012

Oh how I love this article, I'm a huge fan of theater who's enjoyed writing and directing plays for young actors, what a thrill the stage, the theater! Great piece and wonderful tips, I feel inspired to write something in adult theater now. I love Shakespeare and Elizabethan works. Enjoyed :) Katie

Sheri_Oz on 12/07/2011

What a nice concise presentation of the main elements. Thanks. Y'all.

sheilamarie on 12/07/2011

You've made some good points here, Chef. It's important to be aware of character development when you write a story or play. Nice reference page for the writer.

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