How to Write a Musical (Top Tips)

Creating a musical means weaving together the intricacies of storytelling with the rhythm of melodies. To create one, you must navigate through musical scriptwriting, understand its structure, breathe life into characters, write touching lyrics, and master the art of composition. 

As if that isn’t enough, refining, collaborating, creating unforgettable scenes, and strategizing for success are also paramount. To make things easier for you, here are the top tips on how to bring your musical vision to life.

1. Creating Your Musical Script is Foundation Building

Delving into the world of musicals begins with translating your idea onto paper. This foundational step serves as the backbone of your production.

Musical Script Format

A formatted script or screenplays, consisting of dialogue, stage directions, musical numbers, and song lyrics, streamlines the production. Center your dialogue, indent stage directions to the left, and capitalize song titles, with lyrics centered beneath.

Writing & Storyline

Begin with a high-level plot summary, which lays out the narrative structure. Ensure your storyline has engaging conflicts, resolutions, and character arcs. Music and lyrics will further enhance this narrative.

2. Musicals Typically Follow a Two-Act Structure

While every musical is unique, most adhere to a specific structure that ensures fluidity and coherence. Split generally into two acts, the first part introduces audiences to the characters and the world they inhabit, while the second act delves deeper, exploring challenges and resolutions.

Placing songs thoughtfully within this structure ensures that they augment the narrative rather than distract from it, thus guiding the audience through the story’s highs and lows.

3. Your Story Source Shapes Your Musical

Every captivating musical stems from an equally captivating base—be it original concepts, classic novels, intriguing legends, or inspiring biographies. The source material should be filled with a strong narrative backbone and dynamic characters. In essence, it’s about striking a chord with the audience, all while weaving a theme or message that leaves an impact.

4. Songs Offer Character Depth

Music breathes life into characters. A well-placed and beautifully composed song can provide deeper insights into a character’s psyche, revealing their deepest desires, fears, and motivations. 

Character Development

Musicals utilize song as a tool for character development. Your character’s songs should represent their personality traits, intention, and change over time. It’s always fascinating to see how characters evolve through songs.


The way characters sing also builds their persona. A character’s vocal style and range can tell us a lot about them. Aim to write songs that suit the character’s voice and demeanor.


When writing songs, think about what the character would say and how they would say it. Their speech patterns, vocabulary, and rhythm of speech can influence your songwriting. All these aspects intertwined can breathe life into your story idea.

5. Effective Lyrics Drive Your Story Forward

Lyrics are the soul of any musical, binding scenes together and driving the narrative forward. Writing compelling lyrics is a delicate balance of aligning with the storyline, evoking strong emotions, and crafting catchy, memorable phrases. Whether sticking to traditional rhyme schemes or breaking the mold to emphasize a point, lyric-writing can elevate the entire production.

6. Crafting Music is About Setting the Mood

Each scene in your musical has its own emotional tone. Your tunes and rhythms should mirror these emotions, ensuring that the audience feels every joy, sorrow, or tension the characters undergo.

Music Composition

Begin by understanding the mood, tone, and setting of each scene. This understanding should guide the tempo, genre, and instrumentation of your music. Also, the music should harmonize with the lyrics, add depth to the characters, and progress the storyline.


Melodies are the backbone of any musical theater composition. Make your melodies memorable and singable. They should encapsulate the emotions that you’re trying to convey and should be tailored to the range and strengths of your performers.


Rhythm plays a key role in writing musicals. It adds life, drive and variation to your composition. Experiment with different rhythmic patterns to enrich your piece for every dance number.

7. Refinement Elevates Your Musical

No first draft is perfect. Continuous refinement, feedback, and adjustments ensure that your musical achieves its best version. Every edit, no matter how minor, brings added shine.

  • Revision: Regularly scrutinize your work for improvements or inconsistencies.
  • Critique: Solicit feedback for a fresh perspective and potential enhancements.
  • Perfection: Remember, every tweak takes you closer to perfection.

The journey of creating a musical doesn’t end with writing—it’s also about refining. Revision, feedback, and open-mindedness are key to polishing your musical, ensuring each scene, song, and dialogue strikes the right chord.

8. Collaboration Makes Dreams a Stage Reality

A successful musical is a team effort. From lyricists to set designers, every individual adds a unique touch. A supportive, creative atmosphere is essential to turn written words into a live performance.

Whether it’s lyricists, composers, choreographers, or set designers, fostering a supportive and innovative environment is pivotal. Together, the team transforms a written script into a living, breathing performance on stage.

9. Unforgettable Scenes Resonate with Audiences

The hallmark of a great musical is that one scene or song people can’t stop talking about. Achieving this involves a mix of a gripping narrative, soulful songs, and powerful on-stage moments.


Each scene in your musical should have a purpose, whether it’s introducing a character, developing a plot or resolving a conflict. To make a scene memorable, focus on creating tension, emotional depth, and interesting plot twists.

Moment Development

Highlight key moments in your musical through effective scriptwriting and compelling songwriting. These moments could be a character’s realization, a turning point in the plot, or an unexpected event. Song lyrics and music can significantly enhance these moments.


Employ strategies like surprise, suspense, humor, and drama to make your scenes unforgettable. Strive to create emotional connections between your characters and your audience, as that’s what makes scenes resonate.

Crafting such scenes involves a blend of compelling narrative, emotive songwriting, and impactful performances. It’s about creating moments that resonate, tug at heartstrings, and leave an indelible mark.

10. Promotion and Engagement Secure Success

Once your musical is ready, it’s about getting it seen and appreciated. Effective staging, marketing, and audience engagement ensure that your work isn’t just another show but a celebrated performance.


Creating a musical is a journey of passion, blending storytelling with melodic rhythms. From scripting to production, every step requires creativity, diligence, and collaboration. In essence, a musical is a beautiful tapestry of voice, narrative, melody, and emotion, captivating and moving the audience. With the right elements, your musical can be broadway-worthy.