Writing for audio drama

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Writing for audio drama

What's special about audio drama?

Audio is unlike any other medium in its ability to both create extraordinary dramatic situations, and to make intimate, understated dialogue utterly compelling.

"They say blindness has the effect of sharpening the other senses. It's the same with audio - the absence of vision means we fine-tune our hearing, we become more sensitive to subtleties of tone. We hear people at a deeper, more insightful level than if we can see them. That's what gives audio storytelling its power - it's a power which writers can absolutely revel in.”

Ken Duncum

Radio drama uses the most powerful imaging tool available – the individual human imagination.

"Setting? Anything! A boardroom, a boudoir, or a Bentley. Your characters can be on a tea clipper, on Mars, or on amphetamines. And you can switch to and from any of these in an instant. Time? Right now, in the past, or in the future. Characters? They can be beautiful or repulsive. The secret? It's the listeners who do the work!’"

Roger Hall

Getting your head into audio: a special dramatic space

Here are some things that may help get you thinking in audio-drama mode.

"The audio play begins with silence – emptiness, nothing — do not introduce one sound or one word into this silence that does not belong there. Humans are obsessed with making meaning and with giving significance to whatever they perceive. Every sound they hear will have significance."

Audio drama is not just a recorded stage play, it requires the active participation of the listener. The listener is usually listening alone, so they do not censor their imagination under any perceived ‘group pressure’ – you can get away with almost anything.

The audio writer’s palette is very broad – it includes music, sound effects, sound environments, dialogue and silence.

There are no props and scenery required in radio drama. The ‘appearance’ of physical objects – sets, props, costumes, and location changes – is all done with sound and dialogue.

Increase your chances of being heard

Many of the writers whose scripts are accepted by RNZ Drama have done some serious development work on their script before submission. Many of them have sought help from dedicated script development agencies and/or dramaturges or directors with some experience in working in this medium.

Radio New Zealand Drama is not a script-development agency.  It does not engage in long-term script development arrangements with writers other than those writers whose work has already been purchased or commissioned.

The Drama Department does run a series of two day workshops for tertiary script writing students and for writers looking to include audio drama in their portfolio.


Information about submitting audio drama scripts, proposals or ideas, including tips about duration, format and style.

What we're looking for

Our priority is to feature New Zealand writers and performers. We look for projects that will delight, surprise, entertain, and inform our listeners and for work that makes best use of the unique story telling opportunities that audio provides. We also welcome quality work that appeals to new, younger listeners and continues to reflect the whole of New Zealand society.

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