Radio Commercials: Writing To Voices
September 16, 2014
Sometimes it's easier to write a commercial if you have specific voices in mind. Hearing those voices in your head helps you to write from their point of view.
Even if you only have a limited stable of talent available, like a radio station staff, imagine each of their personalities. As you write you are essentially speaking for them. How would they express themselves? How would they react? How would they tell a story?
Where else can you find voices to give you inspiration for writing? Listen to CDs of actors voice samples or downloads from the web. Think about your relatives, your friends, voices in radio or TV commercials, voices in movies, voices overheard in restaurants, public transportation or in retail stores.
The ideal way to capture these voices is to record them, then you'll have audio samples to refer to. If you can't do this, then write a short description of the person's voice at the time you're listening. Interesting voices are everywhere: the gum-chewing store clerk with the nasal twang, the fast-talking investment broker, the laid-back surfer dude at the coffee shop, the nervous kid who delivers your newspaper, the opinionated guy who drives the snowplow. Each of these characters has their own personality, their own story, and their own perspective on life. As you listen to their voices or read their descriptions, "become" them and write from their hearts.
With your client in mind, listen to your collection of voices until one or two of them "speak" to you. Now listen to all the samples you have of those voices. Picture who they are and where they live. Create a story about them and then write your commercial in their voices,
As you write a commercial from a character's point of view, you'll find that as it develops you may change the characters' personalities from what you originally had in mind. You'll see your commercial story take on a life of its own. Just go with it and see where it takes you.
The final step in this process is recording the commercial with either the voices that inspired you or similar voices. The actors of course will have their own personalities and may bring something to the commercial that you hadn't envisioned originally. Be flexible enough to adapt your script to the changing point of view.
Like any story, your commercial will evolve. Don't try to hold on too firmly to the original idea. Let the voices in your head create a commercial to touch the hearts of your audience.