Screenwriters: Here's an Active and Creative Way to Learn TV Script Structure

One of the best ways to learn is to do...

People come to this blog and other places to learn how to write movies and TV shows, but I maintain most of your time is better spent actually trying to do what you're researching. Now, most people think that advice has to do with creating stories, but it also has to do with analyzing structure. 

That's why I was so excited to see screenwriter Shruti Saran (find her on Twitter @shrutesnladders) gave us a guide for doing just that. 

TV writing, almost even more so than film, is all about structure. 

So, you need act breaks for commercial placement and you need to jam a lot of story into around 22 minutes of actual screentime. 

That sort of discipline is only achieved in one of two ways: working in a television writer's room...or reading and analyzing a lot of scripts. For many trying to break into the business, the analysis of scripts can help us give our specs a leg up when it comes time to sell them. 

Check out this thread from Shruti and let's talk after the jump! 

I think this is one of the coolest and smartest ways to work. 

If you're speccing an episode or just trying to write your own thing, you should try to adhere to the way the pros do it. Try to write your story emulating the beats set out in a show you most want yours to be like. You can define your own storytelling style from there, but structuring like the pros can really help you. 

Also, this should give you a more realistic interpretation of how TV networks get shows on the air. 

One rule I always have tried to follow is the idea of "three jokes a page," which I hear a lot when attending WGA TV writer's summits. Seeing that philosophy broken down here is masterful. And the idea of combining multiple storylines into a single scene is also a really cool tool you can use to be economical with your storytelling. 

Now, go be the Shruti of your own world! 

Pick your favorite show and follow the beats. See what it teaches you about writing. 

Up Next: Work on your own Sitcom! 

Learning how to write a sitcom can open your career to more opportunities and get your ideas on the small screen. But first, you have to master the sitcom structure and format.      

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