Author Archives: Jonathan Dorf

Jonathan Dorf

About Jonathan Dorf

Jonathan Dorf’s plays have been produced throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe and Asia. Published by Brooklyn Publishers, Eldridge, Meriwether, Playscripts and Smith & Kraus, he is the author of Young Playwrights 101, an e-book for young writers and those who teach them. He created Final Draft’s “Ask the Expert” playwriting and is the resident playwriting expert for The Writers Store, for whom he teaches “Introduction to Playwriting” as part of Writers University. Co-Chair of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, he holds a BA in Dramatic Writing and Literature from Harvard University and an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA. He is available to playwrights and screenwriters of all ages as a script consultant. Visit him on the web at or email him at

Multiple Casting Made Meaningful

I was sitting in the Los Angeles Farmer's Market recently doing a script consulting session, when the subject of multiple casting arose. It's hardly uncommon in these days of tight theatre budgets.

Writing Query Letters That Work

You're finally ready to submit your script to the theatre company of your dreams. So it's time to throw your play in an envelope, address the envelope, wait in the endless line at the post office and away it goes. Right? Hold the phone.

Play Structure Made… OPTIONAL!

No matter how they're actually divided, plays, like movies, have three acts. In the first act, we introduce characters that want something, who are in conflict. In the second act, they try to get it, with lots of resulting complications. In the third act, the play picks up speed and races...

Getting Your Exercise

Generally speaking, the more I write, the better I write. Why? Because writing, just like playing a sport, requires certain muscles, and the more you exercise them, the better you get. So in the spirit of improving your writing fitness, here are exercises that, unlike with pro wrestling, you can try...

The Joys of Rewriting, Pt. 2

If you followed the instructions in the Joys of Rewriting, Part One, you should now have a tight, professional-looking manuscript. Of course, your rewriting work is just beginning, and you're about to sully that pristine script.

Fast Food Characters

Some playwrights believe in coming up with elaborate histories for their characters, exhuming every tiny detail of their lives, before they write a word.

Absence Makes the Play Grow Bigger

Every once in a while, a "big" play like Angels in America comes along, but many (if not most) of today's playwrights, and particularly the less experienced ones who watch too much television, are writing smaller and smaller plays. Too many plays have become insular, relationship-centered affairs.

Good Plays Done Cheap

You ever wonder why one-person plays got so popular? Sure, they're the ultimate vehicle for an actor, and, in fact, several of the best plays I've ever seen have been for one performer. But it sure is cheaper to pay one performer than ten, isn't it?

The Joys of Rewriting, Pt. 1

Whenever I finish a first draft of a play, I take a deep breath and may even wander to another project for a while, but sooner or later, I plunge back in. There's an old saying that says something to the effect that most writing is rewriting. It's true.