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Questions are a powerful thing.

Questions engage the mind.

People are drawn to questions.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that audiences love a play with a powerful MDQ (major dramatic question).

Your MDQ could be anything, but frequently it’s some variation of:

Will your protagonist be able to solve their main goal?

(Will they find love, kill the monster, get back home, break the spell, solve the murder, etc., etc.)

It’s a question raised by your inciting incident. When that incident occurs and throws your protagonist’s life out of whack, the audience understands at a fundamental level that the rest of your play is going to be about how your characters deal with that stife–and they’ll expect the play to be over after that MDQ has been answered.

Since the MDQ is the main question your audience wants to see answered, it’s not hard to see how a more compelling MDQ leads to a more compelling play.

How do you actually DO that?

Obviously there’s no one single answer, but I’ll give you 3 suggestions.

1) Identify your MDQ.

Start by simply putting your finger on what your MDQ actually is. Does your play have an MDQ? If it’s hard to say, that could be a sign that it’s not as clear and compelling as it could be.

2) Raise the stakes for your protagonist.

Identify what your protaconist has to lose, and brainstorm ways to raise those stakes. What else can go wrong? What other kind of danger can they fall into–such as losing their job, their spouse, their life?

3) Listen to Lesson 5 of the PSH Playwriting Course, which is all about how to find and hone your play’s major dramatic question.

The course is available to members here: