Help writing a radio play
- 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.
- However, don?t make the story too complicated, with too many
themes, characters and plotlines, or the listener will get confused.
- 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.
- Don?t - in the interests of furthering the plot - have characters
telling each other information they already know!
- 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?
- But, if in doubt, keep it simple - the play stands or falls
by the words you have written, not the amount of music or
- 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.
- 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
DIGGING FOR POTATOES. IT IS RAINING) and dialogue
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.
- Feel free to ignore some of these tips. All the best playwrights
break ?rules? from time to time. But have a good reason for
- 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.
- Tune in to BBC World Drama on BBC World Service
or listen via our website by going to www.bbcworldservice.com
and selecting BBC World Drama from the Radio Programmes list.
- 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.