I took a class in the fall entitled Writing for Television at Bentley University in Boston. Much of what I learned has helped me through my first year of creative writing. One of the keys to writing television that we learned in the class was that a television show follows the traditional three act structure that any story follows, except for the fact that in a television episode, many questions are allowed to go unanswered.
For instance if you watched the season premiere of Entourage you may have noticed that Turtle was running a car business of some sort, which was not fully explained. Ari made a mailroom boy his new assistant, but the audience was not personally introduced to his character. Johnny may or may not have a show coming in for him. These are all questions that were clearly thrown in front of our face that we did not have answered. This is not a bad thing either, because if viewers want to know about a particular character or event that has not yet been realized, then they are more likely to watch the show again.
This is one of the fundamental aspects about television that I love. The fact that a writer can hint at where the story is going without committing to anything prematurely. I also like the fact that you can solve only one aspect or focus of the show in one episode and then refocus the show around a different event or character in the next episode, which opens up your ability to change things up and create new story lines for audiences to follow.
Television is clearly fun, however, it is very difficult. The first pilot that I ever wrote was called "The Mission Men," which was a show about a group of nerdy bomb makers (for a defense company) who would go on a mission in each episode with some general overlaying themes like rivalry at work and the quest for true love. It was simple but I really enjoyed writing it and it opened my mind to a lot of different things.
For the rest of you students who are thinking about television I recommend taking a class in it. I also recommend any type of workshop. You can also follow the link on writers world to the BBC, which will give you feedback on your writing if you send it to them. For all fellow students of writing thank you for reading.
THe following is the link where the picture above was taken from:
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