I’m a fan of podcasting and of writing. And creating fiction podcasts is the best of both worlds.
I haven’t created my own fiction podcast (yet) but I am rounding up resources and tips for when I am ready to take on the challenge. And if you’re thinking of starting your own fiction podcast, these resources should help you too.
First, October 30 is Audio Drama Day, which is a great time to celebrate and support fellow creators. Acast published a history of the day, which breaks down the Golden Age (old time radio), Silver Age (1966–1995), Bronze Age (1996–2011), and Platinum Age (2011–present).
We Edit Podcasts has a helpful article about techniques for captivating writing. Just like with novels and short stories, you want to have a relatable character, who has to overcome some sort of obstacle, and you want to leave your audience/readers/listeners wanting more.
In order to have staying power, it’s helpful to look at the classics, like Frankenstein. An article on Jane Friedman shares the secrets behind the success of Frankenstein. In addition to its initial popularity, the book has done well for so long because its characters have problems that are timeless, that people can relate to. The premise is strong and can easily be adapted. And the longer it stays popular, the longer it will stay popular.
Pacific Content also shares ten storytelling tips. In addition to having a strong character, you need stakes, a theme, a decision that needs to be made, and a twist. Then at the end, have some sort of revelation. (Though the article does mention this isn’t a rigid format.) Another good thing to keep in mind? Make your scenes visual. This is especially important because of podcasting being an audio medium.
And speaking of…with a fiction podcast, make use of sound design. (This works well for narrative non-fiction podcasts too.) A while back, Hot Pod published some things fiction podcasters could learn from non-fiction podcasters. Sound design shouldn’t be distracting (don’t take away from your storytelling). Also:
When creating your fiction podcast, you want to avoid these two common traps of sound design: under-designing or over-designing. Under-designed podcasts can feel monotonous and hollow. Missing important sounds like footsteps, cutlery on dishes, or the breeze on the grass can emphasize that the audience is hearing a fictional production instead of immersing them in the scene and the setting. Having no music can make the stakes feel lower and the tension feel dull.
There’s a lot of options when it comes to storytelling and podcasting. On the flip side, you could also consider immersive audio, where you design a sensory journey around the listener. Companies such as Earplay create voice-first projects. One of their projects is an interactive audio story for Alexa devices about Jurassic World, where you “travel with podcaster Janet Best in a daring attempt to report on the fate of the dinosaurs as the island’s dormant volcano roars to life.”
With podcasting and storytelling there’s a lot of room for creativity. What fiction podcasts do you want to make? Share in the comments!