Writer’s Guide

“Advice to would-be writers? Quite frankly, I believe there is only one piece of advice anyone can give, and it’s exactly the same as that given by the Greek philosopher Epictatus in about 100AD: ‘If you wish to be a writer, write.’ You can only learn the craft by doing it, and keeping on doing it. You can only get through the door by hammering on it, and keeping on hammering on it, until somebody opens it. And when they do, you must have something of your own to show them, so you must keep on writing spec scripts until one is accepted, or leads to a commission.” – Anthony Read. Doctor Who script editor.

If you are a professional writer, or someone who wants to learn the craft of writing, or just someone who has always wanted to write a Doctor Who story, then may we humbly offer the services of The Doctor Who Audio Dramas.

SegalChord Productions is a group of professional, semi-professional, and amateur actors who have been making The Doctor Who Audio Dramas since 1982. Currently, we have over 160 stories and our episodes are downloaded thousands of times a month..

Our aim is not only to create an entertaining show, but to provide a learning experience for up and coming writers and actors. A place where people can “cut their teeth” as the saying goes. The Doctor Who Audio Dramas is an excellent place to hone your skills before diving into the unforgiving world of professionalism. To date, it has been our honour to have worked with several writers and script editors who have already been or have turned professional. Perhaps you will be next!

  1. If you plan to write an original story for us, begin with a synopsis – a two to four paragraph summary of your story, so that we can smooth out any potential issues before work is begun on the treatment and full script.
  2. We love all kinds of stories. That is the beauty of Doctor Who.  Any genre, and place, any time.  We are especially on the lookout for historical and comedic scripts, so if you have an interest or talent for those, consider writing a story of those types.  Again, though, any time any place is the mantra for Doctor Who, so do not feel limited.
  3. The script format we use is “Radio Play”. You do not have to use this format. Write your script in any format that you are comfortable with, using Microsoft Word or a compatible program. (Word has some superior editing tools that allow us to mark revisions and leave comments.) When your script is finished, we will import it into the script program we use. (Fade In)
  4. At this point in our development, we’re trying to keep the average story length to three or four episodes. Each episode of your story must be between 15 and 30 minutes including opening title music and end credits. (That works out to an average of about 30 script pages an episode.) We may still accept stories that are shorter than three or longer than four episodes, but you will need to have a really good story and be prepared to justify the need. We’ve had stories that range from a single episode (Mission to the Unknown and The Brown Death) to fifteen episodes (Time’s Champions).
  5. Regular, satisfactory progress must be made by the writer. We do realize that writing is a time-consuming endeavor, and we do understand that it is done on a volunteer basis, but if you are unable to submit work at regular intervals, we will be unable to consider your story. Generally speaking, each episode should take no more than two months to put together for each stage of the writing process. If you need to take longer, at the very least contact us and let us know of the delay. We’re very patient, as long as you keep in contact. (We’ve had writers that have taken five years to finally get their stories together, but they kept in contact. That was the key.)
  6. We do use our own Doctors and companions, and will provide character descriptions for you to work them into your story. Please, no submissions for stories about The 7th Doctor and Romana, or any other established Doctor/companion characters.
  7. Although they are fun to write for, do not use common characters such as Daleks, Cybermen, The Master (or other Gallifreyans), etc. Everyone wants to do them, and there is a very long wait time before such can be scheduled. (Only experienced writers are allowed to write for these types of characters, and usually only by invitation.)
  8. We are looking for originality in our stories! Please do not submit ideas which are sequels or continuations of something else, or that mimic the formula of another work. We also do not accept crossover stories between Doctor Who and other shows, and please do not reference events from spin-offs. (Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, etc.)
  9. The characters in your story should be essential to the plot. Avoid large numbers of characters (which can make your story difficult for an audience) and unnecessary small roles (which can be hard to cast actors for).
  10. Make the companion role active. Gone are the days when the co-star just stood around and said, “Gee, Doctor, what’s that?” or “Eeek! Help me!”. Companions in our stories are dynamic figures that contribute a great deal more to the plot.
  11. No vulgarity, please. Yes, we know the new series is allowing it, and swear words can be a natural part of everyday speech for some people. But not here. Keep it clean.
  12. Be flexible with your writing. Sometimes production needs change (especially if your story is taking longer to complete than originally expected), or an element of the story just doesn’t work and needs to take a different direction.
  13. Do your best to stay true to the whimsy and spirit of the BBC series, but keep references to Doctor Who history to a minimum. Only the television series is canon (not the books, or Big Finish).  Continuity has been increasingly difficult since the new BBC episodes have themselves been ignoring series history. More importantly, stories with complications in continuity are very difficult to work with.
  14. Avoid overly long speeches. Break up your monologues.
  15. Ownership of stories: this question has come up a lot. Essentially, writers continue to “own” any story they submit. You can sell your story to anyone else. However, once we produce it, we can distribute it for all eternity, and you cannot ask us to remove your story from our lineup after you have submitted it.
  16. Lastly, and very important, be flexible with your writing and be open to constructive criticism.  Remember, the script editor is there to help you as well as to help you meet the needs of the production.

For those interested, click on the appropriate link for an overview of the scripting process and a short essay by an experienced writer on what the writing process is like.

Thank you for your interest in writing for The Doctor Who Audio Dramas. We look forward to working on your story!

Questions and submissions can be directed to dwad@onepost.net

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