When writing radio drama, use dialogue to set the scene

MEREDITH: I can see a light outside, Albert.

ALBERT: Yes, Meredith, I see it also. But what the devil...



ALBERT: My God, Meredith! It’s Peter, your husband!

MEREDITH: Peter! What are you doing bursting suddenly into the room with a gun in your hand and a look of fury on your face?

PETER: I’m furious, Meredith. In fact, I’m pointing this gun at you right now.

ALBERT: Don’t worry, Meredith, I’ll wrestle him to the ground.


MEREDITH: You’re fighting him, Albert!

ALBERT: Yes, and I’m winning, too.

PETER: You have your foot on my windpipe and you are overpowering me.


  1. Is it possible to write badly well every day. Because I need this kind of laff every day.

  2. Thank you for these. They make my day. I write badly, not on purpose, and not as badly as you teach. I need to learn how to write badly better than the badly that I write. These really help.

  3. My take on writing dialogue:

    “I have a lot of trouble writing dialogue,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I think I’ve written this exact conversation before, with the same wordy, pretentious meta-jokes.”

    “Oh, stop griping. Your dialogues are fine.”

    “Part of the problem is just punctuating them correctly. And I never know whether I’ve put in enough ‘he said’ ‘she said’ lines. When you’re writing, they all sound terrible. When you’re reading it later, you realize that you didn’t put enough in. It’s enough to drive you crazy.”

    She turned off the water and wiped her hands on the dishtowel, then said, “The best thing to do is to make sure the reader knows what the characters are doing. Where they’re located. That makes it easier to picture the scene.”

    “I know.” He stubbed his toe on the water sprinkler and cursed.

    “Such language,” she said frowning.

    “And take cursing. My mom might read what I’ve written for Christ’s sake. What’s she going to think if everyone goes around saying *%&@ and ‘shit’ all the time?” He sat down and started putting on his shoes, glancing up at the sky to see if it was going to start raining soon.

    “What about sex scenes?”


    “I said, ‘What about sex scenes?’.”

    “Oh, they’re the worst. If you leave them out, you’re an unrealistic prude. If they are too graphic, then you’re just writing pornography. No matter what you write, you’ve still got to worry about your mother reading it.” He slumped back onto the lawn chair dejectedly.

    “Come inside, I need to close the window before it rains.” As she reached to close the window, she added, “Besides, we’ve got the house to ourselves tonight. Let’s screw on the kitchen table.”

  4. Thanks – I'm really glad you're finding these snippets helpful. My theory is that it's not only more effective to learn through bad practice than good, but that it's more enjoyable as well. Everyone's read good writing before, so where's the fun in that?

    As for daily updates, I'd love to, but I'm afraid that I'm far, far too lazy.

  5. The star wars radio drama had an awful habit of doing this.

  6. F/X: A TUSTLE

    Did you mean to say 'tussle'?

    Thanks for the laughs!

  7. Thanks for the tip-off, Anon – I must have been thinking of "bustle" when I typed that. It's fixed.

  8. For some reason, Arthur Conan Doyle had a habit of doing this sort of thing in his historical novels, where there was even less excuse for it:
    '"By heaven!" cried Sir Nigel, "it is as bright as day with the torches. The gates stand open, and there are three thousand of them within the walls. See how they rush and scream and wave! What is it that they thrust out through the postern door? My God! it is a man-at-arms, and they pluck him limb from limb like hounds on a wolf. Now another, and yet another. They hold the whole castle, for I see their faces at the windows. See, there are some with great bundles on their backs."
    '"It is dried wood from the forest. They pile them against the walls and set them in a blaze. Who is this who tries to check them? By St. Ives! it is the good priest who spake for them in the hall. He kneels, he prays, he implores! What! villains, would ye raise hands against those who have befriended you? Ah, the butcher has struck him! He is down! They stamp him under their feet! They tear off his gown and wave it in the air! See now, how the flames lick up the walls! Are there none left to rally round us? With a hundred men we might hold our own."'

  9. These are still awesome. I'm gonna buy your book. Please keep going!

  10. I just found this blog, and it's amazing - spot on. I took a creative writing class in both high school and college, and I'm pretty sure I read students' stories containing all of these posts. Makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

  11. http://writingmedley.blogspot.com/

  12. 2 humble suggestions:

    Witty lead characters who use the 'great' lines and come-backs the author wishes he had said but is never able to think of in time to use in real life.

    If you're doing other media then bad comic writing is in a league of its own sometimes. Maybe it'd make a good Christmas special? I don't think I've ever seen an intentionally bad comic.

  13. Oh also I loved this post, just couldn't think of anything specific to say, but it's great.

  14. Hi Felix.

    I love the idea of a comic/graphic novel-based post. It would only be held back by my dismal drawing skills, so I might need to outsource the artwork. I don't suppose there are any readers out there who are secretly amazing comicbook artists, are there?

  15. Your examples make my teeth ache. I love them.

  16. Stirling work, I used to have a similar concept with my blog; it would focus on poor punctuation, though the concept was never explicitly made clear to the reader and really it just a disguises for my sub-par education.

  17. These are awesome. Daniel, I have one thing to say to you: Lol.

  18. As someone who writes, reads and listens to audio scripts every day - This is painfully accurate. Such garbage can be avoided - you just have think.

  19. These are simply briliant, freakin hilarious!

  20. "You have your foot on my windpipe and are overpowering me" --- Made my day.

  21. F/X: Laughter

    Anne: "I'm rolling on the floor laughing."

    My mom: "Do your homework, which is on the floor and which you should be doing."

    Anne: "You're making an angry face. Leave me alone and let me laugh in peace."

    F/X: Door slams

    Anne: "My mom is gone. Now I'll read some more."

    F/X: Laughter

  22. Back in grade school, our history teacher used to play recorded dramatizations that sounded just like your post.

    C1: "Watch out, here come the hostile Indians who are shooting at us!"
    C2: "We must escape them by jumping quickly from this bank into the Ohio River!"