“In an episodic treatment, such as a teleplay is, you have the ability to do what you can do in a novel, which is flash back and flash forward in the same instant, in the same scene, in the same voice.” -John Irving
We are currently living in a revived golden age of television; although it’s not the 1950s, various media outlets and viewers all over the world have readily and openly admitted this fact.
Never before have there been so many TV series, streaming services, and developers creating new ideas. However, it is important to state that the viewing experience has dramatically changed in the past few years. With the arrival of streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube TV, Apple TV+, etc., the entertainment industry has drastically shifted making video rental shops a thing of the past and watching television series in the comfort of your bed the new big thing.
In the 2010s, the term “Netflix and chill” has replaced the invitation to go and grab a cup of coffee.
Therefore, with an increasing demand for new television shows to appear on streaming services, television writers and producers are working harder than ever before. The goal to dethrone “Game of Thrones” as televisions best has pushed the limits of teleplay writers to create outstanding stories.
Without further ado, we will analyse how a screenplay for television can be written to entertain binge-watchers all over the world.
Teleplays are different from play scripts and screenplays since they follow their own structure. (Source: Unsplash)
Is a teleplay the same as a screenplay?
In the simplest terms, a teleplay is a script or format used for television programs or series that have dialogue and action description. Television writers work hard to consistently provide engaging stories episode after episode; this is why a group of writers are used to write episodic dramas or comedies.
It is important to state that when mentioning a screenplay it primarily refers to a feature film or documentary.
In the television industry, every type of script, whether short or long, is referred to as teleplay. The teleplay or television screenwriter receives acknowledgement usually in the opening credits where it states, “written by…”
Many people do not realise that the term “teleplay” came about in the 1950s to distinguish teleplays from stage plays and feature films. It’s essential to mention that teleplays, play scripts, and screenplays are all different and boast distinct formats, conventions, and constraints.
Various trustworthy outlets such as The Writer’s Guild of America have highlighted the defining facts that distinguish a screenplay from a teleplay.
The Writer’s Guild of America has headquarters in two United States cities, New York City and Los Angeles, and is a labour union that protects TV and film writers.
For instance, according to the WGA, a television script has two distinct parts: the story and the teleplay. The story includes basic narrative ideas, themes, and outlines discussing character development. While, on the other hand, teleplay involves full individuals scenes of “dialogue and monologue” also “camera set-ups” and additional information if required.
The difference between both can be understood this way: the “story” is a rough copy of what is to be included and the “teleplay” is the final draft or finished product.
Essentially a TV script, teleplays are frequently written by experienced writers to create television series that keep audiences coming back for more week after week.
The basics of teleplay can be learnt by following the examples of older drafts. (Source: StudioBinder)
Ever wonder how some of television’s most brilliant minds write and develop characters and stories that inspire or entertain millions? If so, you’re not the only one. Television screenwriting is an art-form that has created some of the best entertainment in recent memory.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, House of Cards, Homecoming, Ozark, Fleabag, Broadchurch, Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, Barry, need I say more?
To become a roaring success a teleplay needs to be well structured, researched, and investigated; it’s no easy task for beginners!
Therefore, without further ado, to aid beginners to chase their dreams, the following are necessary steps on how to write a teleplay for the first time:
It’s important to mention that by following the previously mentioned information about how to write your first teleplay and by consulting the expertise of others, a successful career in television screenwriting can be established.
But who are the most experienced TV screenplay writers of all time?
Click this link to learn more about helpful screenwriting resources.
The work of some of the 21st century’s best television writers can be watched on streaming services. (Source: Unsplash)
“We’re in the second golden age of television, and to me, one of the most profound things that’s happening in TV is just that by default that opened the door to more women, more people of colour, more outliers. It’s one of the greatest side effects of the digital revolution.” -Marti Noxon
Writing a screenplay for television is a lot of work. It requires much effort and dedication to the television series. Characters are developed week after week and original ideas are constantly needed. It can be said that television writing is a lot more taxing than feature film writing.
Many brilliant minds of the 20th and 21st century have created and written layered television programs that have entertained millions of viewers. For example, 30 Rock, SNL, The West Wing, Roseanne, Community, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld has made television absolutely fantastic.
Therefore, without further ado, we will analyse some of the best TV screenplay writers and some of their best work:
By following the example of any of the previously mentioned teleplay writers, beginners who are learning the basics of television screenplay writing will become pros in no time!
Do you want some tips on how to write every screenplay successfully?