Pretty much all of the writing I’ve done has been prose– that’s how most of you know me, right? Former fanfiction writer turned novelist (with a couple of short stories thrown in for good measure).
But recently, I tried something new. You see, one of my critique partners, Alex Brown, co-created an audio drama podcast called The Bridge that I am O B S E S S E D with. And The Bridge has a few mini episodes that stand apart from the main story arc.
Alex invited me to write one.
I was intrigued– because hey, this was sort of an opportunity to write canon fanfiction for a thing I love! But I was also nervous. I’d never written any sort of a script before.
I’m rather happy with how it turned out! You can listen to the result of my efforts here.
But anyway, the endeavor led me to reflect on the unique challenges of writing a script– in my case, basically a monologue– when compared with novels and short stories. And, it led me to think a little of how they’re alike as well:
- Voice is always important, but when your medium is literally a person’s voice, it’s possibly even more important that you nail the character’s voice.
- In prose, you can have paragraphs upon paragraphs setting the scene and action. In an audio script, you have to leave the listener’s imagination to do a lot of the heavy lifting. But you can help them along a little bit with sound effects of shuffled papers, footsteps, and the like.
- Similarly, all that fun internal dialogue we’re used to creating? Yeah, that’s out the window. A lot depends on your dialogue, stage directions, and the voice actor’s delivery. You have to trust that listeners can glean shades of emotion from what they hear. They need to give weight to their pauses. (Thankfully, my first experiment in this medium was with an actor who totally got this)
- You know that old writing tip that suggests you read your work out loud to check for rhythms and redundancy? To be honest, I’ve only done that when I’m workshopping specific passages in my books, but dude. I can not stress the importance of that enough for the audio drama medium.
- If you’re a metaphor fan (like me), there’s not a whooooole lot of room to get that out of your system. I mostly used the stage directions for mine. But we do use metaphor in our day-to-day dialogue when trying to describe things to others, so there’s still some room for it.
I’d imagine the challenges present themselves as even greater when you’re writing an episode with a fuller cast, but as I wrote a mini-episode for a single character, things were a little different for me.