Richard Stockwell

Scriptwriter

What I do

I am a scriptwriter for the theatre. I have also written for television and film. I now teach scriptwriting at the University of Northumbria as well as continuing to write my own scripts.

How I got my job

I used to be an actor and I was in lots of plays. Most of them were thrillers and I thought they were rather old-fashioned so I decided to write an up-to-date thriller. That was picked up by a producer and toured the country. I discovered I was better at writing than acting so I kept at it.

What I love about my job

I get to tell stories. It’s a wonderful thing to sit at your desk and imagine yourself into different worlds. My writing takes me to places I can never get to: the past, the future and imagined places. Then the really magical part is when you see actors take the words you’ve written and bring them to life in the theatre or on the TV.

What’s difficult about my job

It can be lonely writing on your own and then only really meeting people when the play gets produced. That’s why I am lucky that I also teach scriptwriting. That gives me a chance to meet lots of people who love plays!

What skills I need

You need to be observant, look at people and wonder what makes them do the things they do: if you know what a character wants you have a story which can be a drama. Plays are always about someone trying to get the thing that they want; it might be money, it might be a new job, it might be some new clothes – the play is about the struggle they have trying to get that thing and what they learn on the way.

Where should young people start if they like the idea of this job?

If you want to write plays, go to the theatre as often as you can and try to read plays or act in them if you like that. If it’s films you want to write, go to the cinema. You need a feel for the kinds of stories that work in the theatre and on the stage. Then next time you want to write a story, write it as a play or a film. A lot of theatres are interested in what young people are writing, so see if your local theatre or arts centre offers any support for writing. You can also study it at university.