The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

Pros: Pure character conflict.

Cons: First put out in 1946, most of the examples are from famous old plays, but that’s ok–the dramatic principles still apply.

Thoughts: The better focus of this book is on the notion of your story having a thesis, such as “True love never dies.” or “Power corrupts.” – You need a thesis to lean on or your story may meander and become “dramatically confused.” The other focus of the book is on characters and their conflict. Things like the Unity of Opposites, and how important it is that characters disagree with each other. Without some kind of tension, conflict, or disagreement either of principles or of values, your story will be flat and have none of that tense energy that better stories have. The Unity of Opposites or character conflict must surround the thesis of the story. But now I’m telling you everything when you should just read it.

Summary: For the pure study of drama, read this.
 
Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION vi
FOREWARD x
PREFACE xiii
I PREMISE 1
II CHARACTER 32

  1. The Bone Structure 32
  2. Environment 43
  3. The Dialectical Approach 49
  4. Character Growth 59
  5. Strength of Will in a Character 77
  6. Plot or Character–Which? 86
  7. Characters Plotting Their Own Play 100
  8. Pivotal Character 106
  9. The Antagonist 113
  10. Orchestration 114
  11. The Unity of Opposites 118

III CONFLICT 125

  1. Origin of Action 125
  2. Cause and Effect 126
  3. Static 136
  4. Jumping 146
  5. Rising 162
  6. Movement 171
  7. Foreshadowing Conflict 178
  8. Point of Attack 182
  9. Transition 192
  10. Crisis, Climax, Resolution 218

IV GENERAL 230

  1. Obligatory Scene 230
  2. Exposition 234
  3. Dialogue 238
  4. Experimentation 245
  5. The Timeliness of a Play 248
  6. Entrances and Exits 251
  7. Why Are Some Bad Plays Successful? 253
  8. Melodrama 255
  9. On Genius 256
  10. What Is Art?–A Dialogue 259
  11. When You Write A Play 262
  12. How to Get Ideas 265
  13. Writing for Television 274
  14. Conclusion 278

APPENDIX A. Plays Analyzed 279
APPENDIX B. How to Market Your Play 294
APPENDIX C. Long Runs on Broadway 298

INDEX 303
 
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