Writing Audio Drama offers a comprehensive and intelligent guide to writing sound drama for broadcasting and online. This book uses original research on the history of writing radio plays in the UK and USA to explore how this has informed and developed the art form for more than 100 years.
Audio drama in the context of podcasting is now experiencing a global and exponential expansion. Through analysis of examples of past and present writing, the author explains how to create drama which can explore deeply psychological and intimate themes and achieve emotional, truthful, entertaining and thought-provoking impact. Practical analysis of the key factors required to write successful audio drama is covered in chapters focusing on audio play beginnings and openings, sound story dialogue, sustaining the sound story, plotting for sound drama, and the best ways of ending audio plays. Chapters are supported by online resources which expand visually on subjects discussed and point to exemplar sound dramas referenced in the chapters.
This textbook will be an important resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses such as Podcasting, Radio, Audio Drama, Scriptwriting, and Media Writing.
BBC Radio Drama resources
The BBC is the leading and only major sustained producer and broadcaster of radio drama in the UK. You can hear the output live and every production is normally online for ‘listen again’ periods. Production resources and output is now often shared between the online ‘BBC Sounds’ and legacy broadcast networks such as BBC 4, 3 and BBC 4 Extra.
BBC Radio 4
Afternoon play. Weekdays 2.15 to 3 p.m. (the main market for new writers)
The Saturday play. Saturdays at 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. (sometimes 1 and a half hours to 4 p.m.)
The Classic Serial. Sundays 3 to 4 p.m., repeated Saturday nights at 9 p.m.
BBC Radio 3.
The Sunday play. Usually Sunday nights from 8.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Wire. Showcase for works that push the boundaries of drama and narrative. Usually Saturday nights at 9 p.m. for 45 to 50 minutes.
It is also worth listening to the digital station BBC R4 Extra that outputs a considerable amount of radio drama archive and comedy.
The International Radio Playwriting Competition 2020. Ten tips for writing a play for radio.
All ideas are only as good as the characters that drive them, and all good ideas need to be dramatic.
Strong scripts know what they are and what they are trying to do.
Knowing where to start with the story that you tell is inextricably linked to the ending you are trying to reach.
The difficulty with many scripts and stories is the middle – the stretch that connects the beginning with the end.
Characters are the thing that separate great scripts from only competent scripts – and great writers from only competent writers.
A scene is the combination of time, place and setting you use to frame and show a significant moment or event in the story.
Dialogue is not just about what characters say – it’s about what they express by what they say.
So you’ve developed your idea, worked out what kind of story and experience it is, created characters, structured the story, brought it to scenic life, and voiced the characters. You have a draft and it feels like an achievement.
Paul Ashton’s Perfect 10. Blog at BBC Writers Room
By Paul Ashton Tuesday 14 May 2013, 10:28
John Yorke’s 10 Questions
John Yorke’s 10 Questions are used by top TV writers all over the UK to unlock and refine their stories:
Writing Radio Drama
Radio drama is the most intimate relationship a scriptwriter can have with their audience, and yet it can also cheaply create anything that you can imagine.
Monday-Friday 10:45-11am Radio 4 (repeated at 19.45 weekdays)
15 Minute Drama – Short form (15min) commissioned in multiples of 5, ideally a series with individual stories in each episode or short term stories that mature over 5 or 10 episodes.
Monday-Friday 2:15-3.00pm Radio 4
Afternoon Drama – Daily narrative drama strand. A complete story that is imaginative, accessible and entertaining.
Saturday 2:30-3:30pm Radio 4
Saturday Drama – Enjoyment and escapism. For example: love stories, thrillers, and extraordinary personal stories.
Sunday (time varies) Radio 3
Drama on 3 – Radical drama, classics and new theatre productions.
BBC Sounds produces podcast/online drama, which is also broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Examples. Doctor Who: Redacted
When a terrifying phenomenon starts redacting the Doctor from reality, three queer women become the world’s only hope. #DoctorWhoRedacted
Lusus What happens when your neuroses come to life? What shape will they take? Lusus is a brand new psychological horror podcast starring Ncuti Gatwa, Morfydd Clark and Alistair Petrie.
Al Smith’s award-winning series set in an ambulance control room.
BBC Radio Four Extra Podcasts and Podcast Radio Hour
Script Library – Radio Drama
Friday 7 March 2014, 12:35 by Stephen Wyatt
Thursday 28 August 2014, 10:50 by Al Smith
Thursday 8 August 2013, 11:51 by Sarah Hehir
Friday 1 August 2014, 11:54 by Jessica Dromgoole
Thursday 17 July 2014, 14:40 by Lolita Chakrabarti
Monday 21 October 2013, 9:15 by Keri Davies
Tuesday 22 October 2013, 12:25 by Carole Salazzo
Gordon House talking about key things when writing radio plays. 1 Nov 1996
Launch of the International Radio Playwriting Competition. BBC World Service. Spotlight
Technical presentation or sound design for radio drama. BBC World Service Spotlight. 21st July 1996.
My Shakespeare Radio Drama at 90. The first radio drama, a scene from Julius Caesar, was broadcast 90 years ago. Now performed by Harriet Walter and Jenny Jules from Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Donmar Warehouse production. Introduced by Jeremy Mortimer Published on February 16, 2013.