The Cambridge Geek

My Audio Fiction Dictionary/Style Guide

I occasionally write about audio fiction, and am attempting to standardise my language on descriptions - particularly useful for things like tagging and categorisation. As such, put together a quick (and very informal) dictionary which might be interesting for anybody wondering what audio drama and fiction is. Shout me improvements in the comments. (Unless it's about the alphabet. I know what it is, but I'm being a rebel.)

Podcast - Audio (usually in mp3 format) delivered/broadcast over the internet, using an RSS or XML file.

Paidcast - Like a podcast, but requires money to listen, either through subscription to an exclusive service, or some other form of paywall/transaction.

Unscripted - Everything is made up by the broadcasters as they record. Can be non-fiction discussion, improv fiction/comedy or drunken ramblings.

Scripted - All of the things said out loud have been written down first and then read out. Can be fiction or non-fiction.

Fiction - Things that aren't true.

Non-fiction - Things that are true. Informative, investigative, interview-y or discussion (and other things).

Audio fiction - Any form of fiction, told through the spoken word (or very occasionally just through music or sound effects). Books, short stories, drama, sitcoms.

Audio drama/audio theatre/audio play - If you write it down, it's a script. Contains no instances of the word "said". Can be one voice, or many. It's performed, not read. Can be anywhere on the scale from horrific to comedic. Can be non-fiction, for dramatisations of real-life events.

Radio drama/radio theatre/radio play - Still a script, but now it's delivered by radio waves. So science, very technology. Wow.

Audio comedy - Funny things out loud. May or may not be true. Sitcoms, sketches, stand-up.

Audio stories - Short stories. But read out loud. Can also be called podiostories.

Anthology - Set of stories from different authors.

Collection - Set of stories from a single author.

Actual play/RPG cast - People playing RPGs (eg Dungeons & Dragons), and recording their sessions. Can be given post-recording editing and production to add sound effects and music etc. Alternatively, can be sessions turned into scripted drama.

Audio book - If you write it down, it's a book (and was probably a book first, really). But now it's read out loud. Can also be called a podiobook.

Narrator - A voice that reads out either a book or a story, or provides a description of the action, potentially around other voices doing dialogue. Can be omniscient, third person, or a first person internal monologue.

Dramatic narration - One person telling a story, possibly doing multiple voices, usually with a bit of oomph. Not quite a straight reading of a book or short story, but instead akin to the early oral tradition of storytelling.

Full cast - A different voice actor for each character.

Immersive - Has sound effects, music, all that jazz. (Unless it's a very specific genre, probably not actual jazz.) Can be applied to any of the above, but tends to be used for audio books or stories. Drama usually implies sound effects and music are included.

Standalone - An audio production that's told in one piece, not multiple sections.

Episodic - A series delivered in several parts, which may or may not be connected, eg a short story anthology, or an audio drama cut up into bits.

Serial - A story that continues from episode to episode, combining pieces to form a full narrative.

And then you can bash them all together to get as specific as you like.

Now tell me where I'm wrong.

Tagged: Feature Opinion Audio fiction