Scriptwriting Surprises

This re-mediation project is my first venture into the world of podcasting, so as way to get comfortable with the genre I have been listening to some short podcasts that I enjoy. One is This American Life, a radio show on NPR which has an archive that I’ve been streaming here. In the past I’d always listened to This American Life with the content of the show in mind, as I assume most people do and its creators intended. But since I started my project I have been instead listening for the strategies employed that make this content interesting and natural: how topics are introduced, transitions are handled, vocal tones are changed, etc. It has been eye-opening to discover what makes listening to ten minutes of someone talking such an enjoyable activity.

Just from my limited pre-recording experience, I’ve realized that, maybe obviously, the podcast is all about the script. Or maybe, more accurately, the podcaster’s relationship with the script. In other words, you have to decide where to follow it verbatim and where to diverge from what’s written down, all while simultaneously sounding professional and natural. Listening to experienced podcasters, I’ve always taken the difficulty of this task for granted. I definitely think that being invested in the subject matter of your podcast goes along way to pulling off this balancing act.

To tie it back to earlier discussions in the year, one aspect of writing that making a script has really brought to light is the marked distinction between written and spoken word. At the beginning of the Gateway class I stated that I wanted to become more comfortable writing in a less formal tone. So far, the script I have been crafting has been challenging me to meet this goal. When I originally looked over the sketch of my podcast script, it seemed fine. But as soon as I started to read it out loud, and apply a personal tone and inflection to it, it seemed awkward. I had to spice it up with interjections, contractions, and informal phrases that, interestingly enough, are usually frowned upon in academic writing. As I go forward into the recording process, I am curious to see how the interpretation of the content is affected by how I present it, and what kind of overall tone I end up constructing.

2 thoughts to “Scriptwriting Surprises”

  1. Joe, it sounds like you’re making good progress on your remediation. It’s interesting to think about writing for a script because you’re right: spoken language requires a lot less formal of a tone than written language. I think sometimes about how masters of speech have such talent in their ability to make simple sentences sound a lot cooler than they are. People say it’s not ‘what you say’, it’s ‘how you say it,’ and I think this is so true. And what’s interesting about your project is that you’re trying to strike a balance between good writing- the pretty words and sentences that writers tend to love- and that good-sounding dialogue- which, I think more often than not, consists of simple words and sentences. It seems to me that in your project, then, you have to focus the most on how you read your dialogue since your product is auditory. I can imagine this is difficult- trying to consider things like interjections, appropriate pauses, etc. as you write. This definitely seems like a challenging project you’ve taken on, but it sounds like you’re handling it well. Good luck as you continue!

  2. I struggle with the same thing in my writing. I never know how to bring my personal voice into my formal paper and make it sound more relatable and interesting. The combination of academic and personal writing is something I feel a lot of people struggle with so I don’t think we are alone. Sometimes I find it easier to write in my own voice and then try to make it sound more formal and scholarly. It would be cool to see the two version of the podcast (one in the formal tone you mentioned and one in the revised version). Best of luck!

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