Playwrighting: set design for visualization

For me, the first step in visualizing a new stage play I’m about to write would be designing the set.

If anyone reads any of my blogs, they know I am huge on visualization of what I’m about to write and proper development of my material prior to writing my first scene. Again, for me, I have to figure out the best layout to tell my story even before I’ve determined how many speaking characters I actually need.

When I’m putting a conceptual set together, there are mostly three things I consider.

1. Space – I never intend to limit the amount of production companies I can submit my work for consideration and an easy way to do that is to make the set requires so grand, a technical director would have a nightmare trying to fit it into a space which would normally be suitable with a few adjustments. I want the play to read easy to produce from a technical standpoint.

2. Blocking – I never want to create a setting which is so complex I’ll confuse myself when making blocking suggestions in the script. Nor do I want my prospective producer to eat confused either. So I make my sets fairly easy in which characters can move around.

3. Description – I lastly want to make sure my set descriptions, which are always described in the first pages of my manuscripts, are easy to describe in the first place. Usually I don’t include a scan of my conceptual set design, so it’s up to me as the author to describe the set with words solely and if I can’t convey the requirements for the story without confusing the reader, than obviously changes need to be made.

These three considerations are usually what I cling to putting my conceptual set design together. And if I’ve done right by myself, I usually have no problems with that aspect of writing the play itself.

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