Writing for TV shows is quite different than writing for feature films. TV shows have become an integral part of family entertainment today. Taking up writing for the TV is rewarding, satisfying and a well paying profession. More and more people are turning to creative writing for the TV because of its growing popularity. TV is both an entertainer and educator. Millions rely on it to get the latest news, unwind before it or simply watch the educational programs. Although almost the same rules apply to writing for the films and for the TV, there are several distinct ones, making the latter a bigger challenge.
The most striking difficulty lies in the short deadlines that TV writers have to meet. A movie screenwriter can take all the time he wants to write, re-write and polish his script. Unlike that, writing for TV shows means that the scriptwriter is allowed very less time to produce a ‘shoot-able’ composition that appeals to the masses as well. The pace is too fast and yet the write-up is expected to be coherent and constructive.
A TV writer cannot hold up a show. That would lead to heavy monetary losses to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per day. All shows have fixed slots when they are to be aired. In case the writer is late in writing for the TV shows, the network’s ratings drop which is the worst thing to happen. It is an unpardonable offense and will win you a writer’s block. The stringent structure that has to be adhered to makes TV show writing a lot harder. Changing the format is perilous. TV is all about commercial breaks. Prior to every commercial break, it is necessary to end in a cliffhanger. This keeps the audience tuned in.
The teasers, the tags and all the ins and outs simply cannot be ignored.
Writing for the TV shows is different because the original writer of a movie is rarely involved with the production. Once his idea or script is purchased, that is the end of his job. This is just not done in television writing. The main writer or even his team is required to be present at the sets to make little amendments in the script or go as far as acting as an assistant director. The number of re-writes is endless and the writer becomes a staff member till the entire show has been produced.
Looking at this angle positively, we can safely say that a TV writer is imbued with great influential powers. A director can be replaced but a writer’s position is entrenched. He has the control to kill any character anytime and end up with actors of his choice. Writing for the TV shows can be stressful and at the same time extremely gratifying. Within a few weeks you can watch the sets that you specified take shape and another couple of weeks before what you wrote come alive on the small screen. You can gloat over the fact that thousands watched the show you wrote even if it turned out to be a flop.
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