Radio writing

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Radio writing

  1. 1. Let’s go and build stronger scripts!<br />
  2. 2. The radio listener has only the sense of hearing as he listens. The radio writer must help him 'see' what is happening as well as what he is hearing. <br />    <br />Rosemary Horstmann, in her book, Writing for Radio, says:<br />The ordinary writer starts with a blank sheet of paper: the radio writer starts with silence. Every sound that is added to that silence will carry some clue which the audience will be waiting 'all ears' to interpret.<br />So how to fill that silence?<br />
  3. 3. Writing Audio Scripts<br />Writing narration for Radio is really about writing words for the ear. <br />Someone once said that audio listeners aren't one audience of thousands; they're thousands of audiences of one. <br />
  4. 4. You should always write with "you" in a personal style, as if your were speaking directly to the person listening. <br />Audio narration must sound natural. <br />If you want to know how that works, record yourself speaking about a topic you want to write a script on. <br />Transcribe it, <br />clean it up and <br />record it again. <br />
  5. 5. Write What You Know<br />If the piece to be written is about computer development, go and talk to a computer developer, or if it’s about teaching talk to a teacher. Do some research, and then start writing. There’s another common writing mantra, “Write what you know.” The writing process can be a whole lot easier the more that is known about the subject, with more to write about, and starting writing then it itself, should be a whole lot easier too.<br />
  6. 6. Awareness of Audience<br />People usually listen to the radio on their own so gear your writing to your audience of one. Are they able to follow your storyline? Unlike book readers, listeners can't turn back the page to check on something they've missed. Is the storyline interesting enough to hold their attention? Don't spend a lot of time setting up the scene; the audience will literally switch off. Start where the action starts and hit the ground running,<br />
  7. 7. Number of Characters in a Radio Script<br />One of the most common mistakes beginner writers make is to have far too many characters. The only way the listener can identify each one is by the sound of their voice; if there are, for example, four different male characters, it becomes very difficult to know who is talking without mentioning the characters' names every time they speak.<br />Stick to two or three characters with a mix of the sexes; this makes it easier to follow. In a long running serial like The Archers, it takes an experienced scriptwriter to handle the numerous characters and scene changes. Listen to it and see how the experts handle it.<br />
  8. 8. Use of Dialogue in Radio Writing<br />All radio is dialogue; dialogue between the characters in a radio play, dialogue between a speaker and the audience. So getting the dialogue right is crucial. The only way to do it is to read your script aloud or tape it and listen to it yourself. Does it sound natural? Is it appropriate to the genre you're writing in? Would the audience be keen to carry on listening? Can the actors speak the lines easily or are there tongue-twisters of phrasing that would trip them up?<br />
  9. 9. Use of Sound Effects in Radio<br />Sound Effects are the magic ingredient of radio. With them, the writer can create different worlds, different emotions, anything he wants, courtesy of the Sound Effects department. The opening bars of the music to Jaws create a very different atmosphere to the sound of birdsong; an owl hooting suggests a different genre to the jingle of a nursery rhyme.<br />
  10. 10. Use of Silence in Radio<br />Silence has a part to play too. A slight pause before an actor answers a question suggests hesitancy, lying, diplomacy and tact, even, depending on the situation.<br />Silence can also mean a change of scene. A few moments pause before the action continues and the listener is cued up to expect something different.<br />Silence can ratchet up the tension. Eerie footsteps, a cry, then silence. Leave time for the listener's imagination to take over and heighten the tension in the listener's mind.<br />
  11. 11. Use short sentences, but vary their length. Stick to one idea per sentence when possible. Make each new idea flow logically out of the previous one. Make sure your audio flows.<br />Check everything you write by reading it aloud. A sentence might look just fine on paper, but it could read awkwardly in the studio. Always check what you've written by reading to yourself aloud or preferable to someone else. <br />
  12. 12. Most Sound departments have a wonderful supply of stored sound effects which can be added to a script but some are not all that high tech. A bag of old cassette tape can represent the sound of someone walking through dry grass, a sink with a hole in the wastepipe gives glorious gurgling noises.<br />Sound effects can carry the story on. A door slamming tells the listener the last speaker had left in an angry mood, a character shouting, 'Don't shoot!' tells the listener that someone is pointing a gun at him without the writer having to spell it out.<br />
  13. 13. Here are some other suggestions to follow when writing your script. Remember, you're writing for the ear, not for print. <br />Write conversationally as if you were speaking to the one individual listening to you.<br />Use contractions and an informal tone. Don't be afraid to use fragments or end your sentences with a preposition.<br />Make sure that all text can be easily understood and read aloud. The best way to test audio scripts is to read them out loud before attempting to record them. <br />
  14. 14. Write everything the way someone would say it, not the way someone would read it. Write out symbols and abbreviations so the voice over talent will know what was meant to be read.<br />With numbers, write out one through nine. Use numerals for 10 through 999. Write out words like thousand and million. Use the appropriate combination of names and numerals for numbers like 22 million. <br />Write out names for symbols. When recording the audio, "dollars" is easier to read than $.<br />
  15. 15. If an acronym or an abbreviation appears in a script, make sure that the full name appears first. <br />Audio scripts allow injection of personality into programs. Since the narrator is an actual person, writers can use inclusive terms like "we" or "our", creating the illusion that the narrator is viewing the program along with the user. This makes the program much more alive and less dry. Such qualities always help to put the user at ease. Using the method, the narrator can act as an actual guide.<br />

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