Thursday, October 28, 2021

On writing for audio

 I’m a History, English and Media Studies teacher so thinking about literature, fiction, mass communication, and all that kinda stuff is home turf for me, but making TOTM has made all those thoughts resonate in a new way because it’s all no longer just theory – I practice it, too.

When I play/scriptwrite for the show (I still don’t know the right verb to use for that), I often find myself writing in a way that I wouldn’t do if I were writing, say, a novel or short story.  If I came across the stuff I write in those types of media, I would cringe.  It’s not the content I’m talking about – it’s the mode of delivery, or style.

An example would be something like a description of on unseen threat… coming closer… and closer… until the hairs on the back of her neck started to stand up straight.  That kind of overly dramatic writing is super cringey in print.  I think it works on a podcast.  It’s all a matter of taste of course, but I would absolutely lean into that.  A countdown is another kind of thing I’d definitely do.  You know: the creature was fifty feet away… now 20 feet… now close enough that they could smell its breath blah blah blah.

I feel that using the verbal equivalent of big, bold colours works in the audio format in a way that would be crass and amateurish in print.  This is yet another way that TOTM has liberated me to just write without thinking too self consciously about the literary quality of my writing.  I like that.  It comes out more fluidly and if it also comes out a little bit pulpy… well, that’s OK. The show is a little bit pulpy (odd to use a print media metaphor but just go with it) and it has to be.  There’s just no time to be editing and re-editing, and searching for an hour for just the right word.  There’s a show to make and a deadline to keep.  I wish I’d discovered all this years ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have a shitty ‘finished but not good enough for anyone to ever read’ novel sitting on my hard drive.

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