Different set of rules apply to the art of writing depending on the medium of publication/broadcast. Even within a particular medium, writing can be divided into creative writing and reportage/opinion, with the latter usually based on facts. Various genres exist within conventional creative writing – prominent among them are novels, short stories, poetry and plays. Hence, both the medium and the genre combine to lay a set of guidelines for the writer. The rest of the essay will outline those guidelines and also provide examples.
With the advent of long distance telecommunication technology during the early twentieth century, radio took off as the most sought after public broadcast medium. Writing for radio then became a specialized field for there are unique qualities associated with a purely aural mode of communication. This posed challenges as well as opportunities to writers and broadcasters. Those pioneers who conquered this new horizon in writing established a genre that was both refreshing and demanding. For example, listening to a play in the radio is quite different to watching it onstage. The playwright will have to supplement through audio the events on stage that are not accounted in words. In other words, special audio effects to reflect transpirations on stage became important. Hence, writers had to pay more attention to detail and try to incorporate various kinds of information into the aural form. What radio writers also did was to improve the attention span and concentration of the audience, for the narrative tends to be information packed and tightly plotted to maximize content output.
Coming to creative writing for television, the rules are not as rigorous as that applicable to radio writing, for the genre draws many of its rules from motion pictures. This is especially true with respect to soap operas, sitcoms and other televised entertainment. The British Broadcasting Corporation, which has mastered both radio and TV drama over the years, has the following to say about good TV drama writing:
“TV is easy to turn off or turn over, so open your story as dynamically as you can. Try to hook the interest of the audience as soon as possible so that they will want to stay tuned and, if there are more episodes to come, will want to keep tuning in. Ask yourself if there’s a strong enough sense of character, drama, and story to sustain an audience’s engagement.” (www.bbc.co.uk, 2012)
But, when it comes to news coverage in television, the main focus tends to be the headlines, with sound bites and video footage complementing the scrolling text. Television talk shows, on the other hand, have now become a time-tested concept that can succeed with even basic recording technology.