BA W800 Creative Writing,
BA W801 Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA W803 Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA W808 Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA PW38 Film and Creative Writing,
BA PW39 Film and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA PW88 Film and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA PWH8 Film and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA QW30 Literature and Creative Writing,
BA QW31 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA QW33 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA QW38 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year)
This 10-week module will explore writing for radio. We will listen to a wide range of radio drama, and discuss the possibilities that radio offers the writer – from the artistic to the practical. Students will be introduced to the basics of writing drama for radio. Topics will include creating location, characterisation, dialogue, and plotting. We will also cover how to format and set out a radio script, and students will be introduced to the radio drama schedule: what kinds of dramas are broadcast, when, and for whom!
Much of what we discuss will focus on techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film. However, throughout the module we will be thinking about the particular possibilities and the constraints of radio: how does the listener know where they are? How many characters can we have in one scene without confusing the audience? How do sound effects work and when should the writer organise and select them?
We will also explore the possibilities offered by what Angela Carter calls 'The Amazing Picture Palace': the freedom to travel to exotic or impossible locations; the opportunities for the poetic or interior; the intimacy. We will look at key figures in the history of radio drama who have expanded its potential, from Dylan Thomas to Samuel Beckett to contemporary writers such as Simon Armitage, whilst also looking closely at the state of radio drama today - thinking about opportunities for new writers and looking at the practicalities of how to explain and pitch ideas. Teaching is by a weekly seminar that will involve listening to and reading radio plays, tutor talks, discussion, individual writing exercises and group work.
This module aims to:
1. provide students with an understanding of the wide range of artistic and practical possibilities that radio offers the writer
2. help students develop their skills in creating location, characterisation, dialogue, and plotting while writing drama for radio
3. develop the techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film.
After successful completion of this module, students should:
1. have developed a critical understanding of the key figures in the history of radio drama who have expanded its potential
2. have investigated and critically evaluated the state of radio drama today, including its opportunities for new writers
3. have gained an understanding of the practicalities of how to explain and pitch ideas.
4. have developed their skills in writing drama for radio and developed techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film.
Our main resource will be listening to drama broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and 3.
BBC iPlayer has radio drama which you can listen to normally for 30 days after first broadcast.
All the online resources at BBC Writers' Room are invaluable: www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom
Students will be expected to listen to radio dramas during the course of the term and discuss their thoughts on these plays. Some classic radio plays which we recommend reading are:
Beckett, Samuel. All That Fall in Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works. London: Faber, 1986.
Carter, Angela. Come Unto These Yellow Sands in Come Unto These Yellow Sands: Four Radio Plays. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1985. (In library).
Hall, Lee. Spoonface Steinberg and other plays. BBC Books: London, 1997.
Plath, Sylvia. Three Women. (available online, or photocopy can be purchased).
Thomas, Dylan. Under Milk Wood. (In library).
Recommended Reading on radio drama:
Grove, Claire and Stephen Wyatt. So You Want to Write Radio Drama? Nick Hern Books: London, 2013. (Highly recommended for this module).
Caulfield, Annie. Writing for Radio: A Practical Guide. Crowood Press: Marlborough, 2009.
Crisell, Andrew. Understanding Radio. Routledge: London and New York, 1994.
Crook, Tim. Radio Drama: Theory and Practice. Routledge: London and New York, 1999.
Davis, Rib. Writing Dialogue for Scripts. A and C Black: London, 2005.
MacInnerny, Vincent. Writing for Radio. Manchester University Press, 2001.
MacLoughlin, Shaun. Writing for Radio. 1988.
Roberts, Philip. (ed.) Plays Without Wires. Sheffield Academic Press, 1989.
Spencer, Stuart. The Playwright's Guidebook. Faber and Faber: London, 2002
Teddern, Sue and Nick Warburton. Writing for TV and Radio. Bloomsbury: London, 2016.
Boardman-Jacobs, Sam (ed.). Radio Scriptwriting. Seren, 2004.
Hill, Christopher William. Writing for Radio. Bloomsbury, 2015.
Teaching is by a weekly seminar that will involve listening to and reading radio plays, tutor talks, discussion, individual writing exercises and group work.
- Carter, Angela. (1985) Come unto these yellow sands, Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books.
- Beckett, Samuel. (2006) All that fall, London: Faber.
- Grove, Claire; Wyatt, Stephen. (2013) So you want to write radio drama?, London: Nick Hern Books.
- Thomas, Dylan; Jones, Daniel. (1954) Under milk wood: a play for voices, London: Dent.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.