Writing in Stereo

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Lesson 3A Notes

April 5th, 2010

The original Writing in Stereo was published online back in the late 1980’s.  Its purpose was to apply creative radio dramatics to all aspects of the teaching of high school English.  Each lesson included a lesson plan and notes.  I’m sharing these with you here.


Notes (III.A)

This lesson is intended to follow the routine classroom reading of a novel. As adapting an entire novel to radio would be impossible in the amount of time available, we use the radio adaptation as an exploration of a key structural element of all fiction and drama.

Usually one or more specific pieces of exposition must be in place to make the climax and final resolution believable. We must know the gun is always kept in the drawer, the bad guy cannot hear through his left ear or the wind always blows through the apartment that way. Discussing the one or more preparatory pieces of exposition is an enjoyable way to understand the novelist's craft.

Unfortunately, much of this exposition is provided in simple narrative form. We don't see it or hear it; the author, himself, fills us in. So once we've identified the key bits of information, our radio adaptation task is to dramatize it.

Here's an example of a finished product from To Kill A Mockingbird *:

ATTICUS: Now, Scout!

JEAN LOUISE: Aw, Atticus. I don't wanna play a ham. Why do we have this dumb ol' pageant anyway?

ATTICUS: You remember what happened, Scout. The kids were getting into too much mischief at Halloween. Last year they tormented those two old ladies, the Barbers.

JEAN LOUISE: (laughing) Tutti and Frutti. I remember. They put all their furniture in the basement!

ATTICUS: That's right. And so the Maycomb ladies decided the town children needed something to do to keep them out of trouble.

This is an example of exposition told in dialogue. A more elaborate method would be to dramatize the actual episode. But doing so in To Kill A Mockingbird would require so many flashbacks that it wouldn't be practical.

*Lee, Harper. New York: 1960 as published by J.B. Lippincott Co.