Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Format for Television Scripts

There are no set standards on how to format for television scripts. However there are some general guidelines. After you have picked the program you plan to emulate, you need to study it in excruciating detail. You need to read as many of the actual scripts as you can get. Find out what the common length of each script is. Study the style of the writing. Study the characters. Study the plots and subplots and how they are commonly merged.

The format for television scripts is exact for each episode. A 30 minute show is exactly 22 minutes and normally two acts. An hour show is 45-50 minutes and usually four acts with commercial breaks in between. You should leave an unanswered question at the end of the first three acts to entice the viewer to stick around to find out what happens.

The one hour drama
Except for paid cable network shows that don�t have commercial break, the format for television scripts must be structured around the commercial breaks. A page of scripts is approximately one minute of screen time. Therefore, a normal program script will be between 59 and 66 pages in length. The cover page should have the show�s name, episode title and writer�s name. The title page should have the show name, episode title, writer�s name and contact information. Typically there will be a teaser (2-4 pages), four acts (14-15 pages each) and a tag (1-2 pages). Each act beginning and end should be clearly marked.

Storyline structure
Follow the three Act Structure format for television scripts. Act One (usually 8-10 minutes) should set up the goal for the episode. You can create obstacles but by the end of the act main character should reach or fail to reach the goal. Act Two (usually 35-40 minutes) should complicate matters and raise the stakes for failure. Act Three (usually 3-5 minutes) is the resolution or failure. Be sure to leave some unanswered questions in the subplots to keep the audience interested.

Dialogue
When writing dialogue format for television scripts, there are a several things to consider such as
� Character�s age, education, ethnic and social background
� What effect will emotions have on their speech and actions
� Dialogue should move the story forward or set up the scenario
� Never explain emotions. Act them out.
� Break up speeches with actions of some sort
Hopefully this article has helped to explain the basic format for television scripts.

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