Writing Audio Drama: from Radio Plays to Podcasts (Online)

Improving | Fiction
Learn to write gripping audio drama with an intensive week-long course on story, structure and technique – and take an in-depth look at the growing market for this exciting form.

Audio drama is cutting edge. The BBC is still one of the biggest suppliers of radio and audio drama in the world and actively seeks new writers, giving them more freedom than in TV or film. And now the expanding market for drama podcasts makes it possible to bypass all the gatekeepers and get your work out to completely new audiences.

Sessions will cover planning, from ‘proposals’ and ‘pitches’ to more detailed outlines, treatments, and scene plans, then move on to character creation, thematic exploration, dialogue, and scene writing. Every session will include short informative lectures, practical exercises, work-sharing, and discussion, as well as individual tutorials on your work-in-progress. The emphasis throughout will be on developing the analytical concepts we need to make scenes and drafts progressively better. As a result, the course is not only for people wanting to focus on writing radio or audio-drama: it’s for anyone interested in honing skills vital to all narrative forms, including prose fiction.

By the end of the week, you will be better equipped to rewrite and finish drafts, either as a radio/audio drama or in any other narrative form, because you'll know what to do, why, and where you’re heading. We'll conclude with an examination of the business side of things, including the expanding market for podcasts and other non-broadcast dramas and drama docs.

'…Mike Harris’s adaptation (actually, more of a masterclass in filleting and repurposing) took Trollope’s major characters and plot lines, shook them about, jettisoned everything dispensable, and grippingly refashioned them for the 21st century.’ (Daily Telegraph)

2021-08-23
2021-08-27
Online
online
Fiction
23rd - 27th August 2021

Availability: In stock

£450.00
15 Places

The course will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Each day will be divided into two-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with a two-hour break for lunch and for completing exercises we will then discuss. Each taught session will be a dynamic mixture of short theoretical/explanatory lectures, followed by questions and discussion, practical exercises, and sharing of work-in-progress. Individual tutorials will take place in-session while the rest of the group works on writing exercises, as well as outside the session slots.

Please note, we will be aiming to develop ideas from scratch. Students are welcome to work on existing drafts but must be prepared to put them through the same process of development, or in this case, redevelopment, from proposal/pitch to scene-plan, as if they were completely new ideas. This will help you discover why you never finished that draft, how to finish it now – and how to make it better if you did finish it but not yet to your satisfaction. This process is as relevant to planning or replanning novels as it is to drama.

Monday 23 August

Morning: We'll start with the fundamentals of story: plot, character, and dialogue. How can you explore character and ideas via plot? We'll then look at pitches, premises and proposals.

Afternoon: Discussing your first draft proposals, followed by an introduction to radio/audio drama – its scope and its possibilities (with audio examples).

Tuesday 24 August

Morning: We'll discuss a selection of your redrafted proposals, before moving on to developing proposals into a prose outline: why do it? How do you do it? We'll look at basic techniques of radio/audio drama: the microphone as camera, music, FX, ‘perspectives’ and essential character identification. Audio drama ‘ID-ing’ – how to use words, music, and sound to tell a story your audiences can follow.

Afternoon: We'll share and discuss the Audio Drama ID-ing exercises you've been working on. Then we'll look at developing your ideas: ‘story events’, character mix, and outlines. You'll sort your character mix and come up with at least two story events that might arise in, or out of your proposal. We'll look at examples of existing outlines that don’t work, ones that do, and think about why that is.

Wednesday 25 August

Morning: Structure and planning – Beginnings, Middles, Ends and big ‘Turns’. We'll apply the concepts discussed above to some of your developing outlines.

Afternoon: Scenes and scene-plans. You'll find all the possible scenes in your developing outline, and we'll turn our attention to dialogue: what makes it good? How do you make it better?

Thursday 26 August

Morning: We'll have a group discussion of draft scenes: what’s working, what isn’t and how to fix it. We'll look at our scene plans: what goes in them, why, and why they are useful for avoiding blocks and other obstacles to getting drafts finished. We'll discuss your progress – how many scenes have you got? Are there enough? Is some re-plotting required?

Afternoon: Group discussion of developing scene plans, which we'll continue working on. Individual tutorials.

Friday 27 August

Morning: We'll look at the importance of revisiting proposals, outlines and scene plans as you write drafts. Writing is recursive not linear. As a group, we'll go over anything you'd like to explore further or revisit.

Afternoon: The business end: the BBC, podcasts (or both). Summary, final questions, and wrap up.

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Tutor

Mike Harris is a script writer, dramatist, director, and experienced creative-writing tutor. He...

Mike forced me to challenge every decision, turn in the story, character motivation. I'm a better writer for it. I don't know any mentors who put more effort into helping their students.
  • Russ Thomas
I wrote my first TV and Radio Drama scripts under Mike’s expert and robust guidance. I sent both to BBC Writer’s Room and got my first TV and Radio Drama commissions at the BBC.
  • Sharon Oakes
Harris’s adaptation...took Trollope’s major characters and plot lines, shook them about, jettisoned [the] dispensable, and grippingly refashioned them for the 21st century.
  • Daily Telegraph

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman