Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Notes From The Masterclass

I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass in Manchester. Here are some notes I penned:

They're a bit random, but here goes.



STORY





* Don't clone what you hear - try something different.

* What makes a good afternoon play? Story...story...story! Story sells a play, so tell a good one. Look at these pointers to work out if you have a good story:


* What's the concept/premise or hook?

* Is it interesting? Encapsulate in your mind what your story is about.

* Whose story is it? Make sure you know.

* What is the inciting incident that changes the path of your characters' journey?

* How does the lead character change over the course of the script?

* What is the climax/resolution? You need a satisfying ending, or one that fits with the play.

* Is your idea fresh, unique, or an exciting twist on a familiar story genre? Put a spin on it.

* What makes it a play for radio?

* Do we want comedy in drama? YES!

* The first TEN PAGES are crucial.

* Set up your world, your characters, but keep focussed.

* Give us a flavour of what is to come.

* Create a narrative hook to get us listening.

* How do you start the story? Make it ALL story.

* Don't be too expositional.



STRUCTURE




* Radio is more akin to film - setting stuff up, so think film, not theatre.

* The three act structure tends to work best.

* Think of the story as a series of steps.

* Balance the highs and lows and build to a climax.

* Does each scene earn its place? Is it needed, and what function does each scene have? if it develops character whilst moving the play along, fine.

* Show don't tell. Put your scenes in action rather than telling.


CHARACTER



* Make your characters realistic - beware stereotypes.

* Inhabit your characters and develop convincing relationships between them. How do they behave through your eyes?

* Add conflict.

* You can have characters talking to themselves about conflict between each other (internal conflict) - inner voice, inner conflict. But, beware inner voice - people tend to use it to tell the story.

* Don't reveal character in blocks - thread them throughout the play.

* Don't have LOTS of characters - or characters of all the same age/gender.

* Don't put too many characters in one scene.

* No bad language, or it must be very mild. Try not to swear at all.

* No sex or violence for the afternoon play.





DIALOGUE



* Don't be too obvious (on the nose dialogue). You don't need to explain story points or character points.

* Character comes from the convictions and reactions of the character - character doesn't come in statements.

* The inner voice is all about inner conflict - some things can only be done inside the head. If it can be done without the inner voice, do it without.



SETTING



* Is the play in the past or future? The afternoon play is about news, features, contemporary Britain. Why would you set it in the past or future, unless there's a strong reason?

* Beware guardian angels - Heaven and Hell.

* Beware too much back-story. Try not to use flash-backs, unless it ADDS to the story.

* Try not to use long time frames. Be careful of moving from the past to the present. clearly signpost.

* Setting can be anywhere.

* Car chases are rubbish - you can't picture them.



MOST IMPORTANTLY



* Play to your own voice.

* The BBC looks for original voices that will stand out on radio.

* For the Alfred Bradley comp - NORTHERN VOICE!

* Take risks and be original.

* Be bold! Go for it!

* Write, re-write and re-write again.

* Send them the best draft you can.

* Less is more on direction. You can suggest songs, but the producer usually overrides, unless it's essential for the story.



YOU CAN SEND IN TWO ENTRIES EACH FOR THIS COMPETITION - AROUND 7,000 WORDS OR 44-50 PAGES. IT'S AS WELL TO READ OUT YOUR PLAY AND TIME IT TO AROUND 44 MINUTES.

3 comments:

  1. I was interested to read that radio plays are more like films than theatrical productions, I'd always thought of them as being more like plays than films! It looks like the Masterclass has been really helpful and that you have some great pointers to help you keep focussed, even stuff like keeping an afternoon play in the present, things like that would never have occurred to me.
    Looking forward to more updates!
    x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for commenting, Jacqui. Yes, I thought that about theatre. Quite a lot of the stuff in the notes made me think. Things like setting the play in the present, unless you have a very good reason.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The last line in the above post should read: It's better to set the play in the present, unless you have a very good reason NOT to.

    ReplyDelete

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