An audience of one
One of the many pleasures about writing for radio is that you have an audience of one. This solo audience member has invited you personally into his/her car, home or ears. You and your drama are usually the only other people in the room – it’s an incredibly privileged place for any writer to be. So, how do you convince them to let you stay?
There is an intimacy in your relationship with your audience that is unique in drama, and the pictures you are creating in their minds are unique to them. On the flipside, this means you must earn your place and keep it, as there is nothing to stop them switching you off… perhaps more than any other form of drama, therefore, radio needs characters – strong, interesting characters – with complex and nuanced lives who an audience wants to sit with for 45 minutes. Plot is fundamental, but unless the people who are navigating plot are of sufficient interest, your audience is liable to lose interest.
How do you share your characters? You can take your audience right inside their head; you can observe them in any situation you like – the bath, a transatlantic flight, the Post Office queue, hiding underneath a bush, sitting next to the listener, the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Mumbai – the fluidity of sound means that you can take the characters literally anywhere in the world/space/time continuum and the audience will go with you, unquestioningly.
The richness of your choice is also the challenge – be bold but be sparing – don’t send characters here there and everywhere just because you can. The power of stillness of a bench in an autumn rain sodden park on radio is as potent as a trip to the Kalahari Desert. Don’t tell us everything about them just because you can – radio’s vast palette will still be there for your next drama.Find out more
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