Learning Lincoln On-line

TOPIC:  Old Time Radio-- Radio Drama   #11
the Light of the Fire "


The subject of radio drama is too broad to be more than touched upon here. The person who has a flair for story writing is apt to write the best drama because he has a sense of plot and a vivid imagination. Frequently, however, the playwright, novelist, short story writer, or movie scenarist has become accustomed to a special type of tech­nique and finds it difficult at first to adjust to the requirements of radio. But, since he is a real story teller, it does not take him long to write radio scripts in the manner prescribed and, being original, he is apt to invent new forms.

The radio playwright has to keep timing in mind. He has to realize he must substitute sounds and words for scenery, and make the public aware immediately of situation and characters. He cannot dally at the start as he might in a stage play.

The novelist or short-story writer who has frequently indulged in excursions into the past will find it simple to appropriate the "flash back" of radio. He will have his narrator or one of his characters throw his story back into an earlier period.

The movie scenario writer will easily understand the use of background mood music and music used between sequences, since music has always played a leading role in pic­tures, especially in the silent days. He will recognize the montage as a device that originated in the movies. In radio, brief snatches of dialog given in rapid succession by different characters are similar to the succession of pictures flashed on the screen to indicate events taking place over a long period of time.

Every writer of radio drama will learn through practice how to use his three tools— the voice, music, and sound effects—and, by seeing his plays in production, he will be able to perfect his style. He will be a better writer if he himself takes part in plays and studies production.

An excellent way for a student to start radio playwriting is for him to take the plot of some well-known folk tale and cut out a pattern for a thirteen-minute play. First he determines the number of sequences, or scenes; the type of transition he will use between sequences; and the characters, cast so that voices will contrast with each other. Then he plans his scenario, and indicates about the amount of time each scene may be allowed.


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