for writers and readers….

Write a short story for radio

short storyEver written for radio? If the answer’s no this opportunity is for you. The BBC Radio Drama Readings Unit are inviting submissions from writers who have never written for radio before for Opening Lines – BC Radio 4’s showcase for short stories.

You can only submit between January 6th – February 14th 2014 but you can start writing now. The three strongest stories will be broadcast and the successful writers invited to London for an afternoon in Broadcasting House to see their stories being recorded.

What are they looking for?
Original stories between 1,900 and 2,000 words in length to fill a 14 minute slot. Stories which work best being read out loud have a strong narrative and minimal  dialogue, character description or digressions into sub plots. They also need strong openings and resolutions. Remember that few people listen to the radio in the same way as they watch television. Usually they are doing something else at the same time – such as driving or cooking. Radio writers need to grab the audience’s attention and hold on to it.

The BBC advise that material which explores particularly dark, harrowing themes is not best suited to Opening Lines and suggest reading transcripts of the stories that have been broadcast in the past to get a feel for what is required.

When submitting a story include a brief covering letter giving your name, e-mail address (if applicable), the story’s title, word count and details of writing track record. Also state how you heard about the creative window and Opening Lines.

Stories can be submitted by email to or you can send it to: BBC Radio Drama Readings, Room 8015, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA.

If you want to kick start your writing you might like BACK TO CREATIVE WRITING SCHOOL – 30 practical and witty exercises to help you defeat the blank page and develop new ideas.  Read the reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US

photo credit: via photopin cc

16 comments on “Write a short story for radio

  1. The Story Reading Ape
    December 17, 2013

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog and commented:
    Here’s a good opportunity for everyone out there in writing land 🙂

  2. Pingback: WRITE A STORY FOR THE BBC! | geraldineevansbooks

  3. gerrieevans
    December 17, 2013

    Reblogged this on my small (but perfectly formed) blog:

    Worth a punt, folks!

    • bridget whelan
      December 17, 2013

      Thanks Gerri and I agree – it’s a great opportunity

  4. cathum
    December 18, 2013

    Reblogged this on Cath Humphris and commented:
    A rare and interesting opportunity. It’s got to be worth a try, hasn’t it?

  5. cathum
    December 18, 2013

    Thanks Bridget. Just reblogged this on my site too! (A writer and her reading).

  6. James Christie
    December 19, 2013

    All right.

    I’ll say what I think just for once. Not what sounds nice in a comment, or makes good copy or keeps everybody happy.

    Definitely not.

    The story I’ve already written, and which was somehow published (and incidentally very well reviewed on Radio 4), that’s the story you should be looking at, and the only reason it ever came to be was because I stopped co-operating and wrote what I wanted, when I wanted and as I wanted.

    I spent twenty-three years trying to adhere to everyone else’s criteria until I finally said enough, and then and only then did I gain any measure of success.

    I’ve been a bit bemused recently as to why no one has woken up to the true tale of the Asperger who watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ” got himself a vampire flatmate, got into an email correspondence with the Hollywood star who’d played her and crossed the world for her. Another reviewer in “Goodreads” basically said he couldn’t believe what he was reading.

    But it was all true.

    I sum it up as a combination of “Rain Man meets Notting Hill via 84 Charing Cross Road,” it’s currently being turned into a musical and, yes, it would make an excellent Radio 4 play. This was mooted last year and then, lo and behold, forgotten about in a sea of trivia.

    If you’d like to read a really good story (paperback, audiobook or ebook) which is well suited to radio and the like of which you will never see again, and do something about it, please reply and I’ll be happy to talk to you, but I will enter no more competitions forever. It took me twenty-three years and many, many humiliations to prove myself and I did it.

    Pardon my bluntness, but I’ve found the times I came halfway are those I regret the most. The times I stuck to my guns are the ones I do not regret.

    The story is already written. I lived it, I wrote it, and that’s it.

    Best wishes

    James Christie

    • bridget whelan
      December 19, 2013

      Thank you for offering a different perspective James. You didn’t mention the name of your book in your comment, but I think readers would like to know it is Dear Miss Landau and the link to Amazon is:-

      • James Christie
        December 19, 2013

        Thank you very much for replying so pleasantly, Bridget, which I appreciate.

        I had a very, very bad experience on a publisher’s training course 23 years ago which very nearly destroyed me and as a librarian, I got tired of and ultimately rebelled against having to jump through more and more hoops just to prove I could be a librarian – I was a rare books librarian and catalogued an entire stately home myself (quite a story) – so now and against all odds I have redeemed and reconstructed myself and so on, but I’m still a bit tired of hoops.

        It’s a good story. I’m tired of being told I have a “chance” (so said the publishers) and I jibbed against having to send it in between certain times:

        Here, in brief, is an excerpt from “Dear Miss Landau,” written while I waited for my Hollywood star one Sunday morning on Sunset. Possibly best read while listening to “Over the Rainbow” by Izrael Kamako’wiw’ole:

        They say all America looks for that sunlit city on the hill, where the sidewalk ends and the good life begins.

        Perhaps there’s a hint of Mom’s apple pie in the air, malted milkshakes at the diner, the scent of coffee always on the brew; and that most delicate and fragile of things, the tinge of lost innocence in the air. Like seeing your first love as she was, before disappointment and disillusion changed her.

        For some, Sunset Boulevard signals the end of dreams. It’s the last stop of the trolley car, the red light at the intersection, the look on the doctor’s face when he has to deliver terminal news.

        And then again, sometimes not.

        The message was thankfully clear. The hopeful trust I’d carried for a year, across an ocean and over 3,000 miles of hard road, was about to be fulfilled.

        A small thing was going to happen. Of no interest to most, of curiosity to some, perhaps a subject of speculation to others.

        From somewhere I smell the scent of roses, and I think I hear Drusilla singing softly in the distance.

        The bus drops me off at the end of Sunset. I look up and see, not the house on Candlewood Drive, but the homes way up in the Hollywood Hills, well lit by the sun.

        I find myself smiling.

        I wait for a while. I no longer feel tired or weary. Those aches and pains are the province of other, older men; and I am young again, as I was before.

        I see a face in the crowd, coming closer. It is familiar.

        Oh dear Miss Landau, it is so good to see you!

        James Christie
        17th March 2010

  7. bridget whelan
    December 19, 2013

    Thank you for sharing James

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  9. Kathleen S. Allen
    December 26, 2013

    Is this for UK writers only?

    • bridget whelan
      December 26, 2013

      To be honest I’m not sure, there’s an implication you will be UK based because of the opportunity to watch your story being recorded but attendance isn’t crucial. I’ll scan the website again and see if that can shed any light on it. If anyone who has written for the BBC Radio could offer any guidance I’d be very grateful….(said she with a hopeful smile)

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