Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pulp Christmas on the Radio

Synchronicity--Within two hours of "Pulp Christmas" being posted on A Twist of Noir, I got an email from James Kerr, who runs a radio drama department for Trent Radio in Canada, telling me he'd just recorded "Pulp Christmas" and would be broadcasting it soon. Interestingly, he assumed the narrator was a woman, so a woman will be reading it. Puts a whole new, Diabolique kind of spin on it. I can't wait to hear it.

But meanwhile, James is looking for more stories, and he gave me some more insight into what he wants. Here's what he had to say:

I recorded Pulp Christmas today. When all is said and done it will wind up being about 7 to 10 minutes in length. You'll notice from the mathamatics at work here that a "short" written piece equals a medium-length radio piece, medium to long etc., &c.. Pulp Christmas is short enough to make a fun single-voice narrative piece that does not require too much work on anyone's part. However, then we get into the issue of dialogue vs. narrative.
***

I can't do anything with 8 pages of narrative. It would be a half-hour radio drama of one person's voice, which is firstly hard on the actor, and secondly (unless the actor and content are brilliant) hard on the listener. Something along the lines of "Speak No Evil" is more ideal for generating dialogue, but even that is broken up between heavy narrative sections, all of which meaning it would have to go through a fairly good overhaul in order to be a radio script.

Here is an example. We'll take Mike Hughes "Speak No Evil". Here it is as it was written:

“Well, ahem, excuse me Sheriff?” Lanny Watts asked, politely interrupting Sheriff Dale Cummins as Dale finished speaking to a representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Looks like that thar blood all over the walls, that ain’t no human blood, sir. According to our man from the county lab,” Lanny said.

“Huh?” Dale’s verbal grunt in the form of a question was all he could muster.

“It’s goat’s blood, sir,” Lanny said.

Dale squinted at the walls and took this in. The fact that it was not human blood did not diminish the reality that two cold corpses occupied the bed in the middle of the room. One of the dead was his best friend; the other was his best friend’s girlfriend.

Here it is as it would be as a radio script:

SFX: Flipping of notebook open

SFX: Large-bulb camera crime scene photographs shooting

Lanny: Well, ahem, excuse me Sheriff?

Dale: Yes, Lanny? What is it, what have you got?

Lanny: Looks like that thar blood all over the walls, that ain’t no human blood, sir. According to our man from the county lab...

SFX: Large-bulb camera crime scene photographs shooting, acting as a bridge to silence.

Dale: [surprise/grunt]...Huh?

Lanny: It’s goat’s blood, sir.

N: Sheriff Dale Cummins squinted at the walls and took this in. The fact that it was not human blood did not diminish the reality that two cold corpses occupied the bed in the middle of the room. One of the dead was his best friend; the other was his best friend’s girlfriend.

*Dramatic music rises, insert title crawl *

N: A dramatic tale of blah blah blah blah blah goats blood blab-lab. Mike Hughe's "Speak No Evil"! &c., &c., &c....

There are other ways of doing radio drama scripts, all equally effective so long as the directions are clear. You'll notice I changed a few things - inserted reference lines for characters, for instance. In radio a listener cannot know when Larry has entered the room until someone says "Hi Larry", otherwise they just hear a door open, which is why in radio scripts you hear an over-use of character names in dialogue, but when listening it seems perfectly natural. Also, sound effects and ambiance are used to create the mood, in large part, instead of narration.

Writing for radio and writing for paper are different things, although the experiences are often transferable - but only in so much as a book can be made into a film. I'm happy to use the material that I can, submitted from writers from Astonishing Adventures Magazine, and contribute it back to the magazine community. There are some interesting things you could do with it from a presentation perspective to promote the magazine, I'm sure, and I would encourage you to do so.
***

I'm always accepting submissions, and if anyone has anything they think might fit better, I am open to receive it. I apologise that it has taken me some time to get back to you. Radio Drama is one of the projects of the station, but the day to day running of it takes priority, and this has been a busier season than some.

Cheers,


James Kerr
Programme Director
Trent Radio CFFF 92.7 FM
Peterborough, ON
www.trentradio.ca

Check it out. There's no pay but...it's always a kick to hear actors reading your words, so if you already have a story, what can you lose?

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