Thursday, 4 February 2010

Checklist for a Perfect Script


I thought it might be a good idea to create a checklist to test the script before I send it off to the BBC Writersoom/NTW New Welsh Writers Call, so I’m going to check it against Perfect 10 (writersroom advice about what they look for in a script), Jessica Dromgoole/D.J. Britton’s advice about the start of a radio play and Jessica Dromgoole's Central Question graph.

Perfect 10
-Know the medium/format
-Get the story going (the start of Shameless in a nightclub, back to the house, Frank unconscious on -the floor and then Steve waking up the house)
-Coherence (make the story hang together)
-Character is everything
-Emotion (the script has to connect on an emotional level)
-Surprise (O Brother Where Art Thou is Odyssey but a very unique and original telling of it)
-Structure (story is structure, every scene must be there for a reason)
-Exposition and Expression (Dialogue – is it the voice of the character? Subtext?)
-Passion (unquenchable desire to tell the story)
-be yourself

How to start a radio play?
The first 3 minutes are the most important of the play. This is when the listener turns off. You have to grab them at the beginning. In radio more than any other medium you have a contract with the audience. If you break that contract they will switch off. In the first 3 minutes you establish the contract with the audience of what the play is going to be. You then have to maintain it. If you don’t they will be disappointed or turn off. You can’t start naturalistically then have a surreal scene 20 minutes in because this is not the contract you established.

Central Question?
First of all think about what is the central question of your play? It should be a simple question? Is there a God is too big an issue for the central question although your play might also be about “Is there a God?) in fact a really good play would have a central question that feeds it whilst also dealing with a much bigger philosophical question. The central question is the blood that feeds the story. It should be a question that can be answered in a yes/ no answer. Think though each scene and ask the question of each character in the scene, then rate the character on where they stand on a yes/no response on a scale of 1-10. 5 is indifferent, responses of 1 and 10 are both extremes on the scale. Characters respond to one another and their views. If characters are on the scale are too far apart then they would be screaming at one another. Similarly if they are at the same level then it would be dull to watch/listen. Characters should have a few points apart. Characters should also move through the scales as their opinions change by the experiences of the play. If they change they are on a journey, if they stay the same they have not been taught anything by the experience of the play. If a character has no view on the central question then they are a superfluous character.

So as long as I've managed to successfully embrace all of these aspects I'm laughing!

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