Related Links: British Council World DramaCompetitions Writer's Room   
International radio playwriting competition 2007
Help in writing your play

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Help writing a radio play


  1. Tell a good story. Radio Drama thrives on strong narratives.
    Whether you?re writing a tragedy, a comedy, a deeply personal
    piece of autobiography or a play to change the world, a great
    storyline will keep your audience listening.

  2. However, don?t make the story too complicated, with too many
    themes, characters and plotlines, or the listener will get confused.

  3. Get under the skin of your characters. Get to know them really
    well. Each will have their own individual speech mannerisms.
    Don?t have them all speaking in your tone of voice.

  4. Don?t - in the interests of furthering the plot - have characters
    telling each other information they already know!

  5. Radio Drama is not only about words. Use the four building
    blocks of radio drama - speech, sound effects, music and silence.
    Decide exactly what ?sound picture? - what mixture of these four
    elements - the listener needs to hear in each scene. Will a scene
    be enhanced by having music under it? Will a pause between a
    speech add to the dramatic effect?

  6. But, if in doubt, keep it simple - the play stands or falls
    by the words you have written, not the amount of music or
    sound effects.

  7. Vary the pace and length of your scenes, as well as their
    background acoustics and ?location?. A radio play which has six
    ten-minute scenes, each set in a dining-room, is likely to be less
    effective than a play which varies its scenes and settings. Keep the
    listener interested by thinking about how the play will sound.
    Using a variety of backgrounds, scene lengths and sound effects
    will usually serve to make a story more effective for the listener.

  8. Presentation is important. Script readers (and play competition
    judges) are better disposed towards neatly-typed, professionallypresented
    manuscripts. Type all directions and sound effects in
    capital letters (e.g. HAMLET?S GARDEN. HAMLET IS
    in lower case. Leave a space each time a character speaks.
    Enjoy writing your play. If you enjoy it, the chances are that
    other people will too.

  9. Feel free to ignore some of these tips. All the best playwrights
    break ?rules? from time to time. But have a good reason for
    breaking them.

  10. Remember that good drama is not simply about one idea but
    about what happens when two ideas collide. Sixty minutes gives
    you a lot of time to develop your plot and your subplot.

  11. Tune in to BBC World Drama on BBC World Service
    or listen via our website by going to
    and selecting BBC World Drama from the Radio Programmes list.

And remember

  • Please read the rules and abide by them. If a play is either too
    short or much too long it may be disqualified.

  • Please do not send your only copy. Manuscripts are not
    returned under any circumstances.

  • Please do not send us amendments or further drafts once your
    play has been submitted.

  • Please do not send cassettes, CDs, videos or sheet music with
    your play - it is not necessary at the entry level and they cannot
    be returned to you.

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