community radio station

Writing as a team

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Collaborative Writing

It’s been a while since I wrote about how I am finding being part of the writers group for the radio soap.

Twelve months on and we are a core of six writers, meeting weekly and we have currently written 168 scenes on our brand new community radio soap opera.

It has been an organic process to get to where we are. Twelve months ago there were fifteen writers at the very first session and to be honest it would have been chaos if it had continued to be that number, and I’m not sure that I would have been in it for the long haul either.

As the initial weeks passed by a writer would stop coming to the meetings until we found it to be the same six writers that would turn up each week.

This was a good number of people to have involved in the process. It meant that we were able to really get to grips with the characters that we created, the world that the soap is set in and without a large number of people to get their point across meant that storylining is more of less a discussion rather than a battle.

Within the team there are various expert areas. A stand-up comedian, a short story professional, an actor, a novice and a radio writer/presenter. With our diverse backgrounds I think we get the best from our characters and we all more or less write our scenes with the same tone, and voice.

Our weekly meetings consist of reading through the previous weeks scenes. This is my favourite part as it’s enjoyable hearing the characters come to life and from something that we’d discussed briefly during story lining to actually having full scenes which feed into the overall soap feels like an accomplishment.

The writer of the scene to be read aloud has to talk briefly about the scene, where the conflict is and what is the change from the beginning to the end of the scene. Some scenes are harder than others to do this.

After the read throughs, we then look into the stories for the next week. Where our characters are up to in terms of their story lines and which characters are needed to assist in developing the story further.

We’ve been a writing group for a year now and it has passed really quickly. The actors were cast before Christmas and recordings are made each week. It’ll be really good to finally hear it on air though, something that I am looking forward to.

A number of things that I have learned from my experience of being part of a collaborative group of writers.
• Discussions amongst more than one person can generate a raft of ideas.
• If a character hasn’t got a solid back-story and biog then writers can really struggle when it comes to putting that character under conflict. It’s important that this is nailed down at the very start of introducing this character otherwise it never seems believable.
• Drop-box is a valuable tool for sharing ideas and scripts.
• Being part of a writing team keeps you motivated. We meet on a Monday night and on several occasions when I’ve had a really tough day at work, what I’ve really wanted to do is go home to rest. Knowing that there are five people relying on you means that you have to attend. I’ve never been to a meeting and not come away feeling motivated again.
• Being taught to listen to others and let go of your own great ideas if the group decide that something else works better.
• Learning to compromise and not feel precious about an idea.

I’m sure there will be more to blog about as the year progresses.

Once I get the official airtime date I will ensure I update this site.

 

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Joining a writing team

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Get out of your comfort zone and do something that terrifies you. That’s a healthy motto – right?

One of the aspects of my MA which challenged me the most was the collaborative group project in semester two.

An eight part radio drama where I worked with seven other writers and devised a radio serial with a forty-five minute episode written by each member of the team.

It was a challenge to say the least. Not only a divide in age and gender, but also in sense of humour. We spent most of the semester arguing about the serial storyline and at the last meeting still hadn’t nailed it down fully.

Not one to learn by my mistakes I’ve gone and done it again and joined a writing team for a soap opera at a community radio station.Collaborative working

Firstly it’ll be great to get my writing on the radio again, secondly it will be good for the CV if I can show that I’ve worked as part of a writing team in a professional context,  and thirdly if I don’t have someone giving me strict deadlines I fear that my writing will only occur when meeting competition deadlines.

This project is at the very beginning of becoming a radio soap opera, and with a team of twelve writers we won’t all get commissioned to write an episode. Which mirrors real life on a television soap opera too.

Last night was the first get together of this new writing team, and I thought I would blog about the journey from inception to writing that first episode.

The writing team is a diverse group of local people from Manchester who are a mix of volunteers at the radio station, writers and others who just want to get involved in this thrilling project.

We began the session by reading aloud a couple of short radio scripts. When asked for volunteers there was an uncomfortable silence so I put my hand up. Reading scripts out loud doesn’t phase me anymore as I’ve had two and a half years of doing this week in week out.

We were then given a large selection of photographs of people which had been cut out from newspapers and magazines. A range of ages, gender and ethnicity were covered and each of us chose one picture. Mine was a woman in her mid-twenties in a yoga pose. I thought I could have a lot of fun in creating her character as she looked quite chilled and peaceful.

My aim is to make my character the least stereotype for that particular image which is what I did when writing her character biography.

Other groups worked together on each of the characters, but the group that I was put in we worked solo and then shared our ideas. I found this approach better as the least conflict at the early stages the better.

Briefly we then came up with a long list of places that would be featured in our make shift soap opera world. Pub, café, library, bridge, park and pound shop were just a few of the suggested places that would feature in our community.

We also need to name our community in the upcoming weeks.

It’s certainly exciting to be part of something new creatively, and of course getting to know new people in this context is something that I find beneficial. Who knows, today community radio – tomorrow the writing team on House of Cards!