Saturday, 26 January 2008

P.J. O'Connor Radio Play Competition

Have you ever considered writing for radio? There are many opportunities and a good way to break in is to try for the P.J. O'Connor competition. Here's the gen:

The RTÉ P.J. O'Connor Radio Drama Awards were established in 1983 to honour the late P. J. O'Connor, former Head of Drama in RTÉ Radio 1, who was noted for his encouragement of new talent. The aim of the competition is to encourage new writers to radio drama and to increase awareness of the possibilities and scope of radio as a medium in the field of drama.

Rules: 28 minute play (rule of thumb is one page per minute when properly formatted)
Prizes: €3,000 for first prize, €2,000 second, €3,000 third prize. All plays are planned to be recorded and broadcast. They shortlist between 12 and 20.

If you are a new writer in this medium, there is a great weekend course they offer shortlisted writers in writing for radio. And you may get lucky too. Sometimes they record and broadcast shortlisted plays and you are paid the standard RTE rates.
Deadline: March 18th 2008 - note the day after Paddy's Day. So you need to post on Friday 14th March (though I believe they are flexible about postmarked dates)

Tips: Listen to lots of radio drama. You can get the BBC afternoon play online. Remember:

  • Don't use too many characters in one scene. Confusing.
  • Use people's names for the first while so listeners know who the characters are.
  • Don't use too many characters in the whole thing as there is a limit to the cast numbers.
  • Start a new scene with a new voice.
  • Remember the listener can't turn back the page to check what's going on so be clear.
  • You can go anywhere - Bogner beach, a Bali nightclub, Outer Mongolia, outer space, underwater, Victorian Dublin, Roman Alexandria, Stone Age Kenya.
  • Use sound effects to allow the listener to picture (if that's the right word) the setting. But don't go over board.
  • Music is always good for mood.

Other guidelines are similar to short stories. Start in the action so the listener doesn't turn off. Don't use similar sounding names for multiple characters.

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