Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Treasure in Old Time Radio Dramas

By suphakit73, published on 15 May 2014
“With the ringing of that phone it is mystery, adventure . . . .”

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows . . ..”

In a bygone time stories were brought over the airwaves into peoples’ homes. This mode of entertainment was eventually replaced over decades by the television. But the old dramas have become available at first on tape, now on CD and through downloads. The art of this storytelling method is revived through modern podcast dramas. But what is this storytelling method and what does it have to teach other writers?

The radio drama, or as it is now referred to as the audio drama, is a story that is told nearly completely through dialog. With the exceptions of some sound effects and background music, the story unfolds with the characters describing what they see and do. When you sit down and analyze the method that is being used by the scriptwriter you will realize that this isn’t an easy task. You are having to put any description into dialog without making it sound forced.

If you have difficulty with dialog or in making your descriptive narrative flow like natural speech, you might want to listen to audio dramas. Where can you find them? Look on iTunes and Radio Spirits. Or if you have satellite radio, listen to Radio Classics.

Audio dramas that I would recommend are (note, I tend not to be a comedy fan, so most of these are dramas):
  • War of the Worlds
  • Les Misérables
  • The Shadow
  • The Saint
  • Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
  • The Whistler
  • Dimension X
  • Suspense

Should you want to try your hand at writing an audio drama and wonder if there are any contests to send them to, well you are in luck. BBC World hosts an annual worldwide contest. You can google BBC World for more details and tips on writing audio dramas. Even if you are not interested in doing it, you might find the tips helpful with your writing.

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