I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass in Manchester. Here are some notes I penned:
They're a bit random, but here goes.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.