Now I'm writing an audio drama for the 60s cult classic Dark Shadows. How totally cool is that?
I used to work for Dan Curtis before I actually got a staff job on Dr. Quinn. I loved working for Dan. Not only did he create Dark Shadows, but he produced and/or directed Trilogy of Terror (remember Karen Black getting chased around by the little Zuni doll?), Night Stalker (the movies, not the series) and versions of Dracula, The Portrait of Dorian Grey and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not to mention he won an emmy for direction Winds of War -- or was it War and Remembrence.
But I digress. When I was 8-years-old I used to run home from school to watch Dark Shadows.
So I was contacted about a month ago to write for Big Finish, who does the DS audio dramas. I turned in two pitches, they liked both but chose a Willie/Angelique story first. I did a treatment. They sent me scripts to study.
Now I'm working on the scripts. It's a combination of a teleplay and a short story. There are only two actual characters (all recorded by the original actors -- so Lara Parker and Johnny Karlan in my episode). The story is told from the point of view of one characters (Willie) so there's a lot of internal dialog.
It's different from writing a teleplay because there are no visuals. So if I want to describe a place or a person, I have to put the words in the character's mouth. And all the monologue part is written in past tense. There's no setting the scene in a descriptive paragraph. It's more like a short story because you're in your character's head, hearing his thoughts.
It is like a teleplay because you are writing established characters and have to be true to their voice. There are some real fans out there who will bust me big time if I make Willie use proper Queen's english.
When there are characters other than the two designated for this episode, their actions and dialog are once again filtered through the POV character. So if I write actual dialog, Willie will be imitating these characters. This seems to go against the show don't tell rule.
In the audio drama I also have to put in sound effects. Josette's theme is one of my favorites. Also the sound of howling dogs whenever Willie starts to remember Barnabas.
There's lots of atmosphere in these scripts. Once again it is written in the POV of the main character. You might be saying that you do the same thing in a short story. But this is different because this is a first person account that is actually going to be spoken by that character. So you're really doing all of the above in dialog -- remember audio drama. No words on a page. No visuals on a screen.
It's a very interesting learning curve. I'm having a great time writing this script. Every day I go back and have to rewrite what I did the day before -- whether it's because I slipped into the present tense in the monologue like I would in a teleplay, or that I wrote some stuff in dialog which should have been in monologue.
Don't you just love learning a new style of writing!
And let me just say once again -- I'm writing a Dark Shadows script! Yippee!