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A survey

I have listened to many a Radio Play, but almost never seen a script for one.

I've seen two distinct layout types, and can't come to a conclusion as to which is better.

AGATHA; We’ve got to save Othar!
KROSP; We do?
AGATHA; Of course we do! He has no idea that he’s walking into a trap! If we don’t save him, he might be killed!
KROSP; …Is this one of those situations that involve ‘ethics’? ‘Cause I’m a cat, you know. I’ve never been very good at those.
where the text follows right after the name of the speaker

and then there's:
------------- (edited to add back all the spaces LJ stripped out)
1. MACBETH:        That will never be. Who can impress the forest?
                               Yet my heart throbs to know one thing. Tell me,
                               if your art can tell so much, - shall Banquo’s issue
                               ever reign in this kingdom?

2. SOUND:             THUNDER (2X).


4. ALL WITCHES:   Seek to know no more.

5. MACBETH:          I will be satisfied. Deny me this, and an eternal
                                 curse fall on you! Let me know!
where the text is grouped into its own column.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 10th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
I don't have Straczynski's The Complete Art of Scriptwriting within reach, and most of the other good guides to dramatic/comedy scriptwriting were written in the 40's, but as I remember it Example 2 is closer to correct, with the possible exception of the character names centered on the page instead of flush right and their lines below that. It gives more room on the page for the actor to add additional notations from the director if necessary.
May. 10th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
...centered on the page instead of flush left! Left, not right!
May. 10th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
I would do it this way (degree in theater and all)
May. 10th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
Eric, can you give me some background on why centering the name is so useful? I assume in that format the text of the quote goes from margin to margin, but I'm guessing it would still drastically add to the page count.

May. 10th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
The second format is more like what I'm used to. To a certain extent, screenwriting (and by extension playwriting) is technical; if you use the format, time flows at about 1 minute per page. If it doesn't fit on the page, it takes more than a minute.

It's also easier for cast and crew to mark up.
May. 10th, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
I prefer the second format (or even the more-preferred "script" format bedii describes, but I understand why the former gets used; it uses a lot less paper.

Edited at 2011-05-10 02:35 am (UTC)
May. 10th, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
I like the second one much better. It makes it easier to locate your lines on a cold read.
May. 10th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
What Bill said. White space makes it easier to read. Anything to avoid those awkward pauses that get broken by someone muttering, "oh, that's ME!" I think the standard is to center character names on the page, but personally I prefer the names flush left.

Now my brain is occupied comparing Agatha and Krosp with MacBeth and the witches. Something about character relationships and the theme of moral responsibility vis-a-vis personal ambition. Since I am not taking an English Lit course (thank god!) I need to stop now.
May. 10th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
O.K., it's time to go to the experts: the BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scriptsmart/has templates for Microsoft Word called Script Smart to make things easier, but they're either for Windows or for Word under OS 9 on a mac. The free screenwriting software Celtix has options for putting out US and BBC format scripts: it's briefly discussed at http://forums.celtx.com/viewtopic.php?t=7965 Here's some advice from either a writer or producer for the BBC: I'm not sure which. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/writersroom/2010/01/newsjack_script_smart_or_smart.shtml You'll see he hates Script Smart. Actual scripts are at http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/insight/script_archive.shtml

Here's a link to what's supposed to be the most common US radio script type: the main difference is numbers for the people and effects.

I'd tend to use the BBC format: they do more radio plays than anyone in the world. I can also lend you my Goon Show script books: I know they didn't turn Phil on, but they're easy to read and might be a help.
May. 10th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
Forgot the link for the US script format: http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/audio_theater/format.txt
May. 10th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
And the first link is defective: it's http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scriptsmart/
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )