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Scriptwriting Advice for Executive Director of the Nickelodeon Writing Program

Over at kiyong’s blog of creative pursuits, Nickelodeon Writing Program executive director Karen Kirkland shared scriptwriting advice for aspiring TV writers.

The writing program aims “to attract, develop and staff writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences” for Nickelodeon Network. There is no fee to apply, and accepted writers can land a paid position that lasts up to one year–earning some invaluable experience in television writing. Here’s some advice from Kirkland:

I love it when I read a MODERN FAMILY spec where the writer has not only given me a fresh perspective on the show in terms of the story idea and the premise, but I can still feel the tone of the show, the character voices have remained intact, but the writer’s voice – in terms of his or her perspective, is also coming through in that script. That’s a really difficult thing to do. And of course, your script has to make me laugh out loud! It has to be funny. The dialogue needs to be witty. Your story, the arcs and your characters all need to be multi-layered. I can always tell when a writer’s had fun writing their script because I have fun reading it. Most of the common flaws are a result of writers that aren’t invested in their work. Before you write your spec, do yourself a favor – write a 1/2-page premise first, then an outline, then (and only then) should you write your first draft. Do your research – it’s not enough to watch a couple of episodes. Watch them all – multiple times!

If you want to apply for the program, read the complete submission guidelines and then download the Nickelodeon Writing Program application (PDF link). The submission period runs from January 2nd and run through midnight on February 28th.

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