July 22, 2014
Life is a continuum, and when you write your commercial story, you're showing the listener a small segment of life, a slice of time, if you will. To make that slice "real," to give it the necessary tension to capture the listener's attention and imagination, create a back-story: what led up to the scene your listener is about to experience? What went on in the hour, day or month before this scene?
Sometimes writers have trouble creating dialogue that works in a radio commercial because they start the scene at the top of the commercial. I'm suggesting that the commercial is a slice, a snapshot of a continuing story.
Let's say the spot opens with a woman on the phone with a friend calling from work on a Saturday. The back-story might be that she had family plans for the weekend that she had to cancel because of a big deadline and she even had to find someone at the last minute to mind her kids while she was at work.
What's her conscious goal? To be successful in her position at the company where she works. She also wants to be there for her kids. Her conflict is she hasn't learned to say "no" to some of the demands on her time and this bothers her. Imagine her state of mind as she makes the call.
Try writing your story first, and then decide when is the best time to bring in the radio audience to eavesdrop on that story.
When it's time to record, sharing the back story for the commercial with your actor(s) will help them deliver a more believable performance, will make you a more effective director and will make your commercials compelling stories that will touch your listeners' imaginations.
Jeffrey Hedquist's life is the back-story for this article. To hear the details, contact him at Hedquist Productions, Inc. e-mail email@example.com.