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It’s Fellowship/Workshop Season

January 12, 2016

It’s that time of year again; time for television workshops and fellowships! The question is, “what TV show do I write a spec script for?” Before you can answer that question you need to determine your strengths. Are you better at drama or comedy? Is crime more your forte, or are you more of a family man? Do you like procedurals or character based stories? There’s a different style for every different kind of show and different rules apply depending on which TV show you choose.

Lets start with the obvious; dramas have more pages than comedies. You might think that would make writing a comedy a little easier. That depends on what you consider easy. Both usually have 3 separate storylines (or at least 2 storylines) so some might consider it more difficult to cram 3 storylines into a 22 – 30 minute show. Choose your show wisely because you don’t want to get stuck trying to fill an extra 5 – 10 pages if you’ve run out of story and still have pages left. Every scene needs to move your story forward.

Next, are you more logic-minded or do you enjoy quick-witted banter? Either can be present in a comedy or a drama. Aaron Sorkin is an excellent example of a writer that uses dialogue and character to move a story forward. But if you lean more toward the procedurals, then maybe you should try your hand at a hospital or crime drama. In a procedural the heroes follow a procedure to find the murderer, the criminal, or the disease.

Are you going to write a script for an episodic show or a serial? In a serial every episode is a smaller piece of the entire show/season. If the audience misses an episode they could be lost when they tune in next week. Writing a spec script for a serial can be tricky because it may become obsolete very quickly. Whereas writing for an episodic, each episode has is own contained story and doesn’t necessarily rely on previous episodes in order to follow the storyline.

At any rate, once you’ve decided on what show you want to write a spec script for in order to enter into the plethora of fellowships approaching, the next thing you need to do is watch every episode… again. And you’ll want to get your hands on as many of that show’s scripts as possible so that you know the layout and format. There are lots of things you’ll need to figure out before writing that spec. So figure it out, do your homework, and get writing! Until next week, keep writing!

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