From the Element Dropdown, you’ll be able to select Act. This element is used and formatted specifically for TV scripts. Your Acts will be in all caps and centered on your page.
Writing television scripts is different from writing film screenplays. Film screenplays most often have self-contained story lines, with everything (beginning, middle and end) taking place over the span of 90+ minutes.
TV shows however, have traditionally had to adhere to commercial break guidelines, are condensed to either a 30-60 minute timeframe, and the story is written to span across multiple seasons.
Depending on the type of television show you’re writing and episode length, your script will likely include a Teaser and 4-5 Acts and/or a Tag for hour long shows, including dramas, fantasy, thrillers, science fiction, etc. For half hour shows such as comedies and sitcoms, you’ll likely have a Cold Open and/or 2-3 Acts.
HOUR LONG SHOWS
For hour-long shows, you’ll likely start with a Teaser. This hooks the reader by dropping them directly into action and “teases” the potential conflict that progresses throughout the series. While “Teaser” seems to indicate a short introduction, it can go on for multiple pages to be the most effective. Below is the pilot for Blacklist, which showcases how the Teaser is utilized:
Once the TEASER is complete, you’ll want to end the sequence with END TEASER, in the Act format from the Element Dropdown.
While a TEASER can be the first Act of an hour long show, it doesn’t have to be. Some writers choose to go directly into ACT ONE.
Following the Teaser, all Acts will begin on a new page. And when each Act comes to a close, you’ll want to indicate this with END OF ACT ONE (or TWO or THREE, etc.).
When cluing up your first episode, you can use TAG in lieu of (or even following) an ACT FIVE. A TAG sequence often includes a cliffhanger of some sort and sets up the next episode. It should leave your audience wanting more!
HALF HOUR SHOWS
When writing a half-hour show, the format more closely follows a Three Act Structure, and will often open with a COLD OPEN instead of a TEASER.
The COLD OPEN works in the same way as a TEASER, in that it introduces plot or character story development to the audience before ramping up into ACT ONE. As with a TEASER, some writers choose to go directly into ACT ONE instead. Once the COLD OPEN is complete, you'll indicate this with END OF COLD OPEN in the Act format from the Element Dropdown.
Each of your following Acts will end with END OF ACT ONE (or TWO or THREE).
Following ACT THREE, your half-hour show may end with a TAG as well. If you think on some of your own favourite shows, you'll be able to identify the TAG scene, as it comes at the end and either adds an extra concluding layer to a plot point, or focuses on character development. With sitcoms, it's often a way to get one last laugh, or include a scene that hadn't been specifically important to the storyline.
Whatever type of TV show you're writing, the Act Element will allow you to format your script correctly.
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