There’s some great television programs out. It really is the new golden era for televised entertainment. In fact, it’s become so popular that Hollywood’s A-list celebrities are putting pressure on their agents to get more ‘series’ acting work over the feature length film. This has a huge knock on effect for screenwriters as the demand for televised scripts are extremely high. Luckily there’s some fantastic inspiration in the form of ‘Saving Grace’ and ‘Law and Order’ writer Roger Wolfson. Whilst interrogating his work and like so many of this peers, the following three points can account for what makes for a great TV script.
When it comes to making scripts for television, the idea of the solitary writer having his own work performed is out of the window. The final draft is the product of a team of creatives, as part of a sophisticated integrated work flow of departments. A team of writers form regular scheduled meetings and work so closely together; it’s a group effort. Plot concepts and character development are discussed and tested through vigorous writing and sharing subjects. Indeed, writers cannot get too attached to their characters for they will have to collaborate with opposing ideas and the process is a constant negotiation. Learning how to form solid ideas on the spot and how to compromise without losing the essence of your concept is what makes for a great TV writer and in turn a great script.
Flexible characters to story arcs
Having the bigger picture planned and set, albeit not in stone, is vital to a great TV Script. One of the biggest differences any TV script writer will say over working for a feature length film is that the writing is a ‘living organism’ of a project. Essentially no one in the writing department actually knows where their characters are going to end up, so striking the balance between story arc and a flexibility to its character’s part of the discipline in making unpredictable and engaging scripts for television.
The importance of the everyday
In writing scripts that form part of a greater narrative to the production of the story, there is sophisticated balance between the gritty drama and the everyday ‘real’ that provides an authentic experience to the TV show. A script must compliment the vision of the director and the voice of the cast members in how they portray their characters. But there is a discretion left to the script writer to allow for the everyday banality to punctuate the extreme ends of drama in the story. A good script writer will pay close attention to the ‘non-actions’ and inconsequential exchanges in social interactions to portray a reality. Indeed, it is everyone’s aim to make the concept of watching the program as invisible as possible. A good script will have an authentic voice that mirrors aspects of the everyday between the spectacle of action or drama. It also sets a pace that piques interest like a classical composer would do when conducing an orchestra.
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