Bake-offs! Check out our past bake off prompts here.
Find prompts online: There are many resources for playwrights (and other writers) all over the internet for free! The Playwrights’ Center has some good prompts here, but there are many other companies and sites that offer prompts!
Read other plays/books, look at art, watch TV/films, talk to people. Reading plays can be very helpful in terms of familiarity with tone, formatting, theatrical conventions, etc. Reach out to friends, family, (even us! We are happy to recommend some good plays!) for recommendations and perhaps even some actual scripts. But also, art is art, so any form of it can be helpful in sparking an idea. So can life! Plays are stories and talking to people and asking questions and thinking about experiences can all be fruitful in providing inspiration.
Think about what you want to submit for What we like to see in a Mainstage Submission is often very different than what we look for in a Wordplay submission. Wordplay submissions can be more fluid, less developed, less finished, etc. while for Mainstage, we like to see a certain amount of thought for the possibility of production of the script (mostly in terms of having a fairly-fleshed out idea, but if you have thoughts about staging or production elements, feel free to throw them in as well).
Of course, you can submit for both Wordplay and Mainstage, but think about what it is you want for your piece. If your submission is accepted for Mainstage, are you ready for the collaborative process of fully producing a piece of theatre? Is your play/musical at a point in development where you are comfortable handing it off to or working closely with many other people? Are you going to be able to finalize it by the Freeze Date? If you submit for Wordplay, are you okay with working more heavily on development for a semester? Will you take feedback (an option we give to all who submit to)? What do you and your work get out of a mentorship and a reading? These are all questions you should ask yourself as you write and submit to NOMADS.
Writing the actual script Give us as much as you can! If you don’t have a full, finished script, give us what you have and an outline. If you don’t have an outline, give us some ideas, themes, disconnected scenes, whatever you got. The more you can give us, the better sense the NOMADS board has of the potential of the piece. We ask that you try to give us at least one short scene to read, so we have an idea of your writing voice, but (especially for Wordplay) unfinished work is totally acceptable.
Some Final Tips Your submission doesn’t have to be perfect and no matter which submission route you apply for, your piece will go through development and will change, so don’t stress about that!
Be bold, take risks! Seeing something different and new is what NOMADS is here to help support!
Write what you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be super relevant or current events-oriented or even your life-long passion — it can be based around a joke heard or a question you have or something less serious, but if you don’t care about what you’re writing about, it comes across in your writing and makes for a less engaging piece.