It may sound ridiculous to the students who are obsessed with “Peaky Blinders,” “Friends,” and “Game of Thrones,” but if you want to become a TV writer and see the other side of your favorite show, you should watch a lot to notice the details. We are talking about not only TV series but also news and morning shows. The only drawback is that it is the first step to your TV writing career. Follow the advice of experienced essay writers from Icheapessay.com in order to give your spec scripts a chance.
Being a writer does not mean to have solitary life, sit alone in front of your computer, staring at the blinking cursor, and drink cup after cup of coffee, in the hope of catching inspirational flows. You could sit in front of your computer, staring at the blinking cursor, and drink the mass amount of coffee in a conference room with dozens of other writers, trying to break the boundaries of one human brain.
The path for a TV writing career is not a straight one. In fact, it is extremely unpredictable. If you wanted to be a lawyer, what would you do? You would go to a law school and get practice in court. But the journey to TV writer is different. The whole industry is similar to a corporate structure: if you are writing consistently, you are expected to see bumps from staff writer to story editor and executive story editor.
Yes, 90% chance you are going to have to work your way into the room as a script assistant, but landing your first job as a TV writer could turn out to be easier than you think. And reading this article can be considered the first step in the right direction.
Essential Steps for Becoming a TV Writer
Like any art, TV writing follows specific formulas and rules, which you, as a worker of the TV industry, should obey. We are talking about such obstacles as commercial breaks, limited time, and budget. Your scripts for television should adhere to strict formatting guidelines. That is why you can’t just type it in Microsoft Word as a regular writer does. So, the first thing you have to do is to learn the craft.
Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree and Take Online Classes
You won’t find a diploma that says “TV writer.” However, having a definite goal of becoming a writer for TV, you can major in journalism or communication, and then, enroll in creative writing programs. There are tons of institutions that are committed to teaching writing for the entertainment industry, and most of them can be completed online. Usually, these programs offer you classes such as screenwriting fundamentals, directing, editing, rewriting techniques, etc. It will help you to understand the basics of the production process as well as your role in the industry.
A piece of advice, while studying in college, try to get an internship on a local channel. Even working as an assistant on set and helping with pre-production issues, you will get practical experience and learn a lot about plot development, story inception, and scriptwriting. Being on set means making connections along the way. And as you know, networking is one of the most useful tools in any career endeavor, especially entertainment one.
Step 2: Read a Lot of Scripts and One More Thing
Believe it or not, but before you start writing your TV shows, you have to read hundreds of others scripts to get familiar with the way dialogue is formatted and character is depicted. To make this process a little bit easier, try to dig up on the Web an actual script of your favorite TV show, then study it in details. If you do not have such an option, start by reading Alex Epstein’s “Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box” to see what there is on the other side of the screen. Then, download “The Screenwriter’s Bible” by David Trottier for valuable tips.
Once you have grasped the basics of TV writing, actively watch your beloved shows from a writer’s perspective. What does it mean? Try to transcribe series as you watch it, and rewind the episode or the whole season. Pay attention to how many acts one series has, look at the plot development, find patterns, and jot down your discoveries.
Step 3: Get Scriptwriting Software
As we mentioned before, you can’t just sit at the table, open Microsoft Word, and start typing your ideas for a TV show. To master the skill of scriptwriting faster, you have to learn to format as you write. Affordable software like “Celtx”, “Script It!”, “Final Draft” (the industry standard) and tools that they use will help you write high-quality material in a short amount of time.
And one more thing: the key to success in any craft is total immersion. So, use YouTube in your favor and listen to the advice of TV writers who have accomplished something in that industry. Stay humble. Wonder.
Step 4: Write Your Speculative Screenplay
TV writer does not need a resume or motivation letter, this is what spec scripts are for. To get your first job on TV as a writer, you have to create a speculative screenplay for one of the episodes of the existing shows. Yes, no one will pay you for it. This is just your calling card, an essential step to getting a staff-writing job.
Here are some tips on how to write your first speculative screenplay. First of all, pick a proven show, not something that is in its first season or something that have been around for too long. Just imagine how many “Suits” scripts the agent of the show has read. Secondly, make up your mind on the type of TV series you want to write for. Is it a drama or a comedy? What would you prefer to watch “Breaking Bad” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm?”
Thirdly, format your script in the right way: add commercial breaks, develop the storylines, do not exceed the page limit for one episode (that is why we asked you to get familiar with basics of scriptwriting, either from the books or actual work). If the series has three intersecting storylines, do not add one more or remove existed ones. You should show that you understand the show’s tone and the character’s inner voice. Tie up the dialogues, edit, and rewrite. Come back to the script in a day or two to have a fresh look.
Step 5: Get an Agent
Once you have followed all the steps mentioned above, you have quite a high chance to become a writer for TV, the only thing left to do is to get hired. They say there are two ways to get a job as a TV writer and that is either to have some direct connections (networking works, sorry for the tautology) or to get an agent. Unfortunately, the majority of TV executives do not read unsolicited manuscripts. That is when agents come into play. They make a living by selling the connections you do not have because you were too busy writing.
How to find a decent agent? Check out the Writer’s Guild of America and their list of reputable agencies. And remember, new agents want to represent the next world-known writer as much as you want to be it.
So, how to become a writer for TV? The answer will be the same as for “How to make a great movie?” question. It all comes down to a good script.