Dramatic Overhearing

With just a week to go now before B.O.D. (Big Overhearing Day) we’re still receiving a lot of eavesdropping jewels through Facebook and Twitter. Here are a few:

  • “I sold that organ for £50.”
  • You can’t kill them. The worst you can  do is hurt them. So just jab it in.”
  • “I’d already had a tattoo by 11.00 this morning.”
  • “I knew all about it before anybody told me.”

Now any of these would make a good starting point for an imagined conversation, and they’re quite fun to write. Initially, you can just create a couple of characters, put them in a particular location, give one of them the overheard sentence as a starting line, write what  the other character says in response, and let it go from there. It’s freefall writing, really,  not thinking about it in detail, almost letting the characters speak for themselves and seeing where the conversation leads. A bit like overhearing in your own head. But if you want to take this further than simple conversation, and develop it into a piece of dramatic writing, there a few points you’ll want  to consider:

  • you’ll  need to fashion a plot, so that the dialogue tells a story
  • find a way of differentiating between the way the characters speak, so that we get a good idea of of who each character  is.
  • find a way of letting us know the setting through the dialogue, in a way that doesn’t sound forced or unnatural.
  • there’ll need to be a conflict of some kind, or a dilemma or problem that needs to be solved. This will form the basis  of the plot
  • you’ll want to bring the story/drama to a resolution. This may not necessarily mean solving the problem, but will give the reader a feeling that the piece is complete.

He shouldn’t have trouble overhearing

If you think you may want to write a script after July 1st, then have a go at one  of the following exercises.

You have to flesh out the ideas with specific setting, characters and situations. You don’t have to resolve the conflicts or the dilemmas, but should indicate a solution. The piece should also have a satisfactory ending, and not just stop. Also, when you’ve written it, try reading it aloud with one or two friends, to see if it really does work.  Speaking aloud is, after all, what drama is written for. You can also check that it does last for 5 minutes.

  • Two characters. One is trying persuade the other to do something that he or she is reluctant to do.
  • Two characters. One has something the other wants. It doesn’t have to be a physical object. Persuasion and/or trickery should be used rather than brute force.
  • Two characters. One has some news to give the other, that she or he is reluctant to give.
  • Three characters. Two of them are in conflict over something, and a third tries to help.
  • Three characters. A has a secret. B wants to know the secret, and persuades C to find out what it is.

If you’re happy with your piece, then send  it in, and we may post it on our examples page.

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