Stop obsessing about REALISM. It's radio, you can cheat a little!
You have to pay attention to how the listener listens!
Observe your own ear-to-brain mechanism. Apply that knowledge to your work.
Just as on stage, as an actor, you can 'cheat' some actions, so you 'cheat' in radio drama.
For example, if a character were to fall from the top of a high building, you do not observe the physics of movement.
The emotional feeling of this - that is what you want to put over. That is going to take more time than the rule of gravity.
You can 'cheat' plot details.
The strict logic of time and place, and a character getting somewhere, or arriving from somewhere, need not apply.
Fiction gives you a certain amount of freedom, as long as the listeners do not realise.
Hitchcock, the film director, when receiving complaints about finnicky details in his thriller plots, dismissed these as 'moronic logic'.
Although at times I found it perfectly acceptable to come up with completely incredulous plots or ideas, at other times, I was overly-concerned with making a scene or sound effect sound "real" and credible.
With reference to 4.1.1 for example, I really struggled with the note by Alan Beck to "turn down the music once you've established it in the scene."
My argument was that, in this case, the music is extra-diagetic and it is completely unrealistic to simulate a situation where the music would come down in volume automatically, particularly since my character says "hey, turn the radio up!" later, thus acknowledging that the music is coming through a radio that my characters can control the volume of.
Alan smiled as I tried to make sense of the illogicalities of the conventions of radio drama.
But I had to pay attention to how our ears operate in the Lifeworld - and that by the 'cocktail party effect', we tune out some surrouding sounds, and we select.
Our ears do not operate as a microphone held out to the Lifeworld, which in discriminately records everything.
In the ear-to-brain mechanism, we balance and select incoming sound events.
The same type of discussion arose in 4.4.3, when I failed to accept that the "pouring" in that scene had to stop.
I argued that because my characters are in a factory, the pouring would not stop, but when I listen back to my first attempts of post-producing that scene, I can see how the reality of the situation need not overrule the logic of it.
This occurred again when I was trying to create a credible music bridge from 4.2.3-4.2.4. I had chopped and changed the script so much by this point that it did not occur to me that chronologically scene 4.2.4 came before 4.2.3.
How could we listen to a recorded message in Charity's kitchen, and then crossfade to the location where the message is being recorded?
This puzzled me, and I tried a few different ideas out before approaching Alan only to be told that this is an accepted convention of radio drama and my listeners would not notice the invalid passing of time.
When writing the script, on several occasions, I probably over-estimated my listeners' attention to detail.
I remember taking a really long time to decide at exactly what time Charity should meet Brenton and Aurora at the bonfire. Ten to seven? Seven O'clock? When she says "they're late" (4.4.1) would the listeners know that they were 10 minutes late?
I now see that attention to such minute detail is unnecessary.
For all I know, my listener has popped to the loo at precisely that time, or gets a telephone call, and misses that particular detail anyway. In any case they certainly don't take notes between one episode and the other, and will only concentrate on the larger, more obvious revelations of plot.
I needed to take a step back occasionally, and be more objective about the project as a whole. It is important not to forget who the listeners are, and what matters most to them.
See 'Radio Drama - directing, acting, technical, learning & teaching, researching, styles, genres'. See INDEX to navigate also. Complete curriculum of scripts, techniques (acting & directing & post-production & genre styles), advice, sound files - effects and atmoses (with no copyright and so free to use), detailed script commentaries, etc.
Academic material on this site is Alan Beck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Learn about radio drama on this site along with my book - Beck, Alan, Radio Acting, London: A & C Black ISBN 0-7136-4631-4 Available on Amazon. CLICK HERE.
Any opinions expressed in this site are the personal opinions of the owner of the site. IF YOU HAVE COMMENTS, PLEASE EMAIL TO : firstname.lastname@example.org