The Right to Marry - November 03, 2014

Script-Writing Shenanigans

Nafisa Syed

After two years of sound editing and anxious waiting, I was excited to begin the process of script-writing. Despite my considerable experience with revising written work, I had, in my heart of hearts, dreamed up the script-writing process as a sort of glorious, immaculate phenomenon: we would blink, and suddenly the script would appear, glowing with eloquence. The distance I had from script-writing made it seem almost magical, otherworldly. I remember thinking, How did they do it? after listening to Beyond the Tie-Dye my first year as an intern.  Throughout my time as an intern, I remember reading blog posts describing script-writing lock-ins and what seemed like endless meetings. I now fully realize the need for those meetings, and can now completely appreciate all that the producers of the past have done.

When I first opened the script outline, my first thoughts were: Okay, I can do this.  I  immediately began to scour the story documents for the perfect stories, trying desperately to avoid the temptation to delve into transcripts themselves. Once all my stories were lined up like ducks in a row,  a realization began to set in: I have to write narration. In the past, all I had written were radio spots,  whose four-minute scripts looked microscopic compared to the vast expanse of the 1-hour-30-minute documentary.  I felt extremely lucky to have a script-writing team  in Alice and Simone. The wonderful work of my fellow script-writing producers helped me with the narration: they were happy to comment and provide feedback on my narration, as well as provide helpful  transitions between the sections we were writing.  As we worked together, I became better at writing narration that nestled between stories, providing a foundation on which to lay the glossy gems of wisdom our interviewees have so graciously provided.

I can't believe that we have finished the first draft of the script already, and are beginning to look at radio spots and music selection. I'm looking forward to polishing up the script, and to the new insights the music selection process will bring. I'm especially excited to see what the interns come up with for the radio spots!


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