WRITING RADIO STORIES – KEY POINTS
I always enjoyed writing radio stories. It is a surprisingly intimate medium as a lot of radio is listened to in a one to one situation. A person could be listening at home alone or they could be in the car.
Writing for radio forces you to place a lot of emphasis on description. Description is really important in radio stories as this is what allows your listeners to ‘see’ your stories.
If you listen to radio interviewers you will hear them prompting their subjects for more and more description like this:
“Tell me exactly what you saw when you arrive at the scene. Who was there? What were they doing?”
This paints the picture for listeners and helps keep them engaged. In radio, listeners do some of the work – in the form of visualization but you can’t expect them to do all the work – it’s very easy for them to switch off.
Dialogue brings a radio story to life and again allows your listener’s to ‘see’ your characters by giving them an idea of the character’s age, gender, accent, social class etc. It’s pretty much the only option you have unless you do something like this:
“Hi Mary, I really like your long red hair and it goes well with your blue eyes and the matching coat looks great too”
“Thanks, John, you’re looking good, your shoulders are quite broad aren’t they? Never noticed that before and that’s a great brown shirt that goes with your brown eyes and hair. Aren’t you forty next birthday?”
In which case you have nothing more than pages of clunky dialogue and no more work in radio – unless your Mother owns the station!
Another really important factor in writing radio stories is the length. You have to be exact. The best way is to read it aloud and time it. You simply cannot go over the time limit for your radio story, or it just won’t fit into the available slot. Either your story will be cut, or you will!
Remember that there are a lot of writers out there who can fit their stories to the slot, so the reality is it will probably be you that’s cut!