The Writing Process: Converting a Drama into a Book

The Last Thursday Ritual in Little Piddlington - Maggie Shaw - Eregendal

Converting a Drama into a Book – not as easy as it sounds!

The Last Thursday Ritual in Little Piddlington started life as a radio play. The whole story, including all the action, was told through sound effects and speech. An absurdist comedy, it owed a big debt to the comedy masters who had gone before: The Goons, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the Ealing Comedies and the Carry On films. One of the joys of working through pure audio, is that the writer can take the audience to places and events which would be challenging or impossible to create through other media.

The printed word, in comparison, needs to be much more precise. A scene which could be depicted in a few audio seconds by some folk music and a bleating sheep, will take a paragraph or two to describe in text, slowing down the action and pace. In drama, a casting director would choose actors to take the roles, and the actors would then breathe their own interpretation into the characters they portray, using accent, pitch and tone of voice. But on the printed page it is the author’s task to define who each character is, relying only on printed words of description and action to convey the differences between each.

I found rewriting the Little Piddlington play in novel form an enjoyable experience. It was fun reliving and fleshing out the jokes from the audio version, and even more fun threading new jokes into the structure, as the novel form had more space for both one-liners and running gags. Whenever I re-read the novel after a year or two on the shelf, the asides and the absurdities still catch me out and draw an unexpected laugh.

While not all writers will be converting audio versions of stories into novels, all writers do want appreciative readers. So when you’re writing, bear this in mind: if the author doesn’t enjoy creating the piece, the audience won’t enjoy reading it.

Happy writing!

Maggie.

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