If you are an author what is your greatest wish? It must be the same as mine.
There is a ring at the doorbell, you open it and there stands Steven Spielberg holding a copy of your book. He begs you to allow him to make it into a major motion picture and thrusts the contract into your hand together with a cheque for an obscene amount.
If you are a reader, what could be better than telling all your friends that the writer of the latest blockbuster that’s breaking all box office records is your friend on Facebook and you knew them when they were just a poor little indie screaming ‘buy my free book.’
We can all dream.
I’ve mentioned before that when the dinosaurs roamed the earth I wrote for radio and television. This gave me the weird idea that I could write. Once I started with the books, I was soon told my grammar was appalling, my commas were all over the place and I disgraced myself by beginning sentences with adverbs. You don’t have to worry about all that kind of stuff writing for other media. For the next three months, in my rambling blog on the first Monday I thought I would show the difference between the media.
I’ll use a passage from my comedy book as an example. The scene is where The Green Giant, sent by the Red Party to ferment unrest in Charmingdon chooses one of the peasants to lead the revolution.
The printed version:-
“Come,” he commanded, “you will lead your people out of bondage. You will liberate their ills. You will speak for all the downtrodden in Charmingdon.”
“Me!” squeaked the man gazing into the Green Giant’s face. “Well, aw right, if yer want me to. I’ve always done as I’m told.”
The Giant pulled the man to his feet and led him to the front, amid cheers, hand clapping and stamping feet. If there were some peasants who looked a little startled by the Giant’s choice, he failed to notice.
“Here is your leader,” he boomed, waving the man’s arms in the air for him. “Greet your Comrade in Charge.” A renewed burst of cheering ensued and under the commotion the Giant bent to ask his name.
“Englebert, sir,” he replied bowing low.
“No!” exclaimed the Giant, “you don’t make obeisance to me, we are all brothers together, one and the same. We share everything, we are all equal.”
“Ooh,” replied Englebert, “can I have this nice coat then?” he fingered the green jacket.
“No, you bloody well can’t,” snapped the august Party emissary, “and get your filthy paws off it, you’re making it all dirty. You can bloody well earn it like I had to.” He slapped away Englebert’s hand and turned to smile at the audience afraid of what they might think of his behaviour.
“Shame,” sighed Englebert, “it’s such a pretty green.”
The Giant turned back to the crowd and held aloft an imperious hand. The peasants subsided and were quiet.
“Now is the time,” he announced, “for your chosen brother to address you all. I give you Comrade Englebert.”
“I don’t know where they all live,” complained Englebert.
“What’s that got to do with it?” hissed the Giant in a low voice.
“Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I can’t write addresses, I can’t even write me own name,” the peasant protested.
“No, no,” said the Giant, “talk to them, make a speech.”
Englebert smiled. “I can talk all right, nothing wrong with me tongue.” He turned and beamed at the assembly. “Hello,” he said.
“Hello,” they chorused back. Englebert promptly sat down looking very pleased with himself.
The Green Giant hauled him to his feet just as fast.
“You must say more than that,” he hissed. “Tell them what you do.”
“I’m the third-under-trainee front doorstep polisher at the palace,” announced Englebert proudly.
“You do you what?” His new mentor’s eyebrows shot up.
Englebert looked puzzled. “I polish the front doorsteps.”
“And how long, Englebert,” boomed the Giant, “have you been under trainee front uh, step polisher?”
Englebert thought for several minutes. “Oh I dunno,” he said, “as long as I can remember. All my life I ‘spose.”
“This man is typical of the injustice of this class system. He has never been given the opportunity to advance his position, to rise to … er, second-under-trainee front step polisher, to first polisher. Will he ever have the chance of polishing the steps all by himself, maybe to rise to the heights of being in charge of the very front door!”
As the oratory flowed, those who knew Englebert well, wriggled uncomfortably in their seats. They were very aware of his capabilities, or rather lack of them. He was very lucky to hold the job he had, it was only through the kindness of King Charming that the poor dolt was employed at all. He certainly wasn’t any good at polishing anything, they always gave him the bits at the side behind the pillars which wouldn’t show.
“Now Englebert, tell your people for what they will be striving.”
“I don’t know,” he mumbled miserably. Englebert wished this fascinating, well dressed, charismatic visitor wouldn’t use such long words. He really didn’t understand him at all.
The Green Giant gave him a nasty look. “What are your personal plans for achievement?” Englebert looked at him blankly.
“What would you like to be? What would you like to do?” the comrade asked with as much patience as he could muster.
“I don’t know,” Englebert paused. “I’m very happy,” he added.
“No! No, you’re not. You’re not supposed to be happy, that defeats the whole object of the exercise,” exclaimed the giant.
This confused the step polisher. “So you want me to be unhappy?” he asked obligingly.
“No! I’m here to make you happy! Can’t you understand that?”
“Look, you’re not happy now, I want to make you happy, but you can’t be happy until after the revolution.”
“Because that’s the whole point of the struggle, the result of which will make you happy.”
“Of course it will.”
“But why do I have to struggle first?”
“To achieve happiness. True contentment only comes after true suffering.”
“But I told you before,” protested Englebert, “I’m already happy.”
“NO, YOU’RE NOT!!”
“Yes, I am.”
If he’d had any sense, the Green Giant would have given up there and then, and departed for more fertile minds in less fertile lands. But a sense of obstinacy made him stand firm.
“Let’s start with the basics,” he said. “Money. Who would like to double their wages?” One or two hands were raised.
“Come on,” he exhorted, “everyone wants to spend, everyone wants a higher standard of living.”
“What for?” enquired Englebert.
“What for! New clothes, more to eat, better houses, a television in every home.”
THE RADIO SCRIPT.
CAST: GREEN GIANT, COMMANDING VOICE THOUGH ORIGINALLY A PEASANT 30-40 YEARS. MID RANGE ACCENT
ENGLEBERT: PEASANT, SQUAEKY VOICE, VERY STUPID, CHILDLIKE, EAGER TO PLEASE, 40-50 YEARS BROAD COUNTRY ACCENT
PEASANTS: RAY – FRED – LOCO – SAM – UNEDUCATED LABOURERS. FEW LINES ONLY.
SETTING: HALL, FILLED WITH AUDIENCE OF PEASANTS
act 1 scene 5
RAY: (FROM OFF MIKE CALLING) Evening peasant Loco, an’ peasant Fred and peasant Sam, you here too?
SAM: (ON MIKE) Yeah, sneaked off work early well afore midnight.
(ALL SNIGGER AND GIGGLE)
SFX: F’STEPS AS THEY ENTER HALL, OPEN AND CLOSE DOOR, BUZZ OF CROWD
INSIDE HALL. FEW STEPS SCRAPING OF CHAIRS AS THEY SETTLE DOWN.
SAM: (LOUD WHISPER) ‘ere ‘e comes now.
SFX: LOUD MURMURS OF CROWD, LOUD APPLAUSE. SHUFFLING FEET,
SNIFFING, COUGHS ETC HOLD THEN FADE UNDER AS GG BEGINS TO SPEAK
GG: (ON MIKE) Welcome peasants to this inaugural meeting. Thank you all
RAY: (UNDER) Inorg…? What does that mean Fred?
SFX: SHUSHING FROM AUDIENCE
GG: (ON MIKE, LOUD) My name is the Green Giant, and I have been sent by
the Red Party across the border in Monrovia to lead you in your glorious
revolt. I am here tonight to choose a man to lead you in your revolution
for freedom! I am coming to choose a man among you worthy of the
honour of leading you.
SFX: MURMURS UNDER
FRED: A revolution? Was’ that Loco?
LOCO: Never ‘eard of such a thing Fred.
SFX: GREEN GIANT FOOTSTEPS, GENERAL CHATTER.
RAY: Ooo Sam, he’s coming over here! I’m scared.
SAM: I aint’ leading anything what I don’t understand.
SFX: GG F’STEPS STOP
GG: Come, I choose you to lead your people out of bondage. You will liberate
their ills. You, will speak for all the downtrodden in Charmingdon.
LOCO: Whose ‘he got there? I can’t see!
RAY: He’s chosen … oh no!
LOCO: Ray, who, who’s he chosen?
RAY: Looks like it’s Englebert. Lawd, what a choice!
SAM: No, never! Englebert?
ENG: (SQUEAKS) Me!
GG: Yes you. Stand up.
SFX CHAIR SCRAPPING ON FLOOR.
GG: Come up on stage with me now to address your people.
ENG: Well, aw right, if yer want me to. I’ve always done as I’m told.
SFX: F’STEPS AS THEY WALK UP ON STAGE. LOUD TITTERS FROM CROWD,
MUTTERS: Well really.
GG: I give you your leader! Greet your Comrade in Charge.
SXF: LOUD LAUGHTER, WOLF WHISTLES AND CHEERS BRING UP, HOLD
GG: (UNDER TO ENGLEBERT) What’s your name?
ENG: Englebert Sir.
GG: (SHOUTING) Quiet, quiet everyone!
SFX: FADE DOWN CROWD
GG: Englebert no! Stop bowing! You do not make obeisance to me, we are all
brothers together, one and the same. We share everything, we are all equal.
ENG: Ooh, can I have your nice coat then? It’s such a pretty shade of green and
looks so warm, I’m, sure it would fit me, if I tucked it up, you are much taller
GG: (WHISPERS) No, you bloody well can’t … and get your filthy paws off it,
you’re making it all dirty.
SFX: LOUD SLAP, RAISE THEN LOWER MURMURS FROM AUDIENCE
GG: (HISSES TO ENGLBERT UNDER) …
You can bloody well earn it like I had to. (LOUDLY TO AUDIENCE)
Now, is the time for your chosen brother to address you. I give you Comrade
SFX: LOUD CHEERING, STAMPING FEET, WOLFWHISTLES ETC
ENG: (UNDER ON MIKE) I don’t know where they all live.
GG: (LOUD ANGRY WHISPER) What’s that got to do with it?
ENG: Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I can’t write addresses, I can’t
even write me own name.
GG: No! You just need to talk to them.
ENG: Thas’ all right then I can talk, nothing wrong with my tongue. (ON MIKE) LOUDLY ADDRESSING AUDIENCE) Hello.
AUDIENCE: Hello Englebert.
SFX: CHAIR SCRAPES ON FLOOR.
GG: (HISSES UNDER) What are you sitting down for? Stand up you stupid man.
You must say more than that. These are your new faithful revolutionaries,
you must inspire them.
ENG: Like what do I say?
GG: Uh, tell them what you do.
ENG: (PROUDLY) I (BEAT) am very proud to be the third-under-trainee front
doorstep polisher at the palace.
GG: (HORRIFIED) You’re what!
ENG: (ONE WORD AT A TIME AS IF EXPLAINING TO A STUPID CHILD) I polish the
front doorsteps of course.
GG: (CLEARS THROAT – BOOMS) Ah. And how long, Englebert have you been
under trainee front uh, step polisher?
ENG: (BEAT) Oh, I dunno as long as I can remember. All my life I ‘spose.
GG: (ADDRESSES CROWD) This poor man is typical of the injustice of this class
system. He has never been given the opportunity to advance his position,
to rise to … er, second-under-trainee front step polisher, to first polisher.
Will he ever have the chance of polishing the steps all by himself, maybe to
rise to the heights of being in charge of the very front door! (FADE AND
HOLD UNDER RAMBLING RHETORIC) Advancement in later years …
opportunity for fulfilment … a new future …
RAY: (ON MIKE) He better not get promoted, he can’t even do the job what he’s
FRED: (ON MIKE) That’s true, they always gives him the bits round the side as won’t
show. If it was not for our beloved King Charming, he wouldn’t have a job
SAM: (ON MIKE) This ‘ere Green Giant is loopy I reckon.
LOCO: (ON MIKE) Can’t make head nor tail of a word of it.
SFX: RESTLESS CROWD, MUMBLING. FADE
GG: (ON MIKE) Now Englebert, tell your people for what they will be striving.
ENG: I don’t know, you use all them long words as what I can’t understand …
As you can see, I’ve added in the extra peasant characters so they can tell us what is going on through dialogue. In radio you only have sound to work with, so it is either voices or special effects. Ha, I found I was a bit rusty, it’s a while since I’ve written a radio script. But I would welcome your comments. Would this work for you if you were listening? Apologies for the formatting which didn’t hold properly on the way into WordPress.
I have not transposed the whole passage but left it there either for you to try it out for yourself, or as a fun read. myBook.to/UeAfter
Next time, I’ll use the format for a video script, which will be different again.
Till then, take care.