Fortunately, when it comes to audio drama script format there are no real rules. There are suggestions however. The BBC has its desired formats here, and the great folks at Radio Drama Revival have a wonderful page set up with all kinds of excellent links. The first thing to consider is who is your script for? You’ll want your cast to be able to read and understand it. If you’re handing it off to someone else to direct and/or produce you’ll definitely want them to be able to understand it. The same goes for the sound effects or foley person. Since I write, direct, produce, perform foley, and mix I’m not as concerned with the technical script cues. I am concerned with making sure the voice artists have something they are familiar with.
This sample on the left comes from the original script for The Behemoth. These were the opening lines to the show. It wasn’t pretty. Looking back I’m somewhat embarrassed by it. Luckily for me, Liz Liu, the incredible voice artist who brought Madyson to life didn’t complain. I basically sent her a document of text to read a week before the episode was due to air. Ugh. Sorry Liz. She never failed me though (and it would have been my fault if she had). Every Friday night I received her recorded lines to edit and work with over the weekend in time for the Tuesday release. That went on for twenty episodes. I don’t know how she did it. I also don’t know how I got that week’s show out on time. It was my first show and I had a lot to learn. So now I make sure I have an entire series written before I hand it over to the voice artists. I also edit and mix the entire season before releasing it.
This is the first page for Shelter From the Storms.
I use a program called Scrivener when I write. I get up a little after 4:00am, grab a coffee, and sit in my favorite writing chair. My mind is clear and the scenes are vivid. No news, social media, or email.
What I like about Scrivener is that it comes with templates for pretty much everything. It has short story, novel, essay, screenwriting, comic writing, and radio drama templates (as well as many more). As I’m the person who handles the sound effects and foley I no longer provide effects cues for myself. As in the sample above, I’ll describe the scene with some mention as to what’s happening. That way I can have fun with the sound design when the times comes. If you are handing it off to someone you could do something like this (from a stand-alone audio-play called A Pinker Shade of Dark which I never produced).
There’s all sorts of ways you can do this. If you are going to give it to someone else to direct, mix, etc. it might help to have this discussion up front. If you’re doing it all yourself then it’s a good idea to have a read through with your voice artists to make sure they are comfortable with the format and what is expected (but that’s another series installment).
If you do use Scrivener for your writing project, this is how I organize the files in Scrivener.
You can then compile and export to PDF, Word, or a few other formats. Copy and distribute!
Next Up: Drafts
Other Posts in this series:
- Birth of An Audio Drama 009: Cover Art
- Birth of An Audio Drama 008: Drafts
- Birth of An Audio Drama 007: Format
- Birth of An Audio Drama 006: Framing and Narration
- Birth of An Audio Drama 005: The Discovery
- Birth of An Audio Drama 004: The Project
- Birth of An Audio Drama 003: Evernote
- Birth of An Audio Drama 002: Listen
- Birth of An Audio Drama 001: Plan
- Birth of an Audio Drama – A Very Brief Overview