The act of screenwriting takes many forms across the entertainment industry. Often, multiple writers work on the same script at different stages of
Some of the most common forms of screenwriting jobs include:
In television writing, a spec script is a sample teleplay written to demonstrate the writer's knowledge of a show and ability to imitate its style and conventions. It is submitted to the show's producers in hopes of being hired to write future episodes of the show. Budding screenwriters attempting to break into the business generally begin by writing one or more spec scripts.
Although writing spec scripts is part of any writer's career, the
Spec writing is also unique in that the writer must pitch the idea to producers. In order to sell the script, it must have a killer title, good writing, and a great logline. A logline is one sentence that lays out what the movie is about. A well written logline will convey the tone of the film, introduce the main character, and touch on the primary conflict. Usually the logline and title work in tandem to draw people in, and it is highly suggested to incorporate irony into them when possible. These things, along with nice, clean writing will hugely impact whether or not a producer picks up the spec script.
A commissioned screenplay is written by a hired writer. The concept is usually developed long before the screenwriter is brought on, and often has multiple writers work on it before the script is given a
Scripts written on assignment are screenplays created under contract with a
Most produced films are rewritten to some extent during the development process. Frequently, they are not rewritten by the original writer of the script. Many established screenwriters, as well as new writers whose work shows promise but lacks marketability, make their living rewriting scripts.
When a script's central premise or characters are good but the script is otherwise unusable, a different writer or team of writers is contracted to do an entirely new draft, often referred to as a "page one rewrite". When only small problems remain, such as bad dialogue or poor humor, a writer is hired to do a "polish" or "punch-up".
Depending on the size of the new writer's contributions,
When established writers are called in to rewrite portions of a script late in the development process, they are commonly referred to as
A freelance television writer typically uses spec scripts or previous credits and reputation to obtain a contract to write one or more episodes for an existing television show. After an episode is submitted, rewriting or polishing may be required.
A staff writer for a TV show generally works in-house, writing and rewriting episodes. Staff writers—often given other titles, such as
Television show creators write the
The process of writing for
Espenson notes that a recent trend has been to eliminate the role of the mid-level writer, relying on the senior writers to do rough outlines and giving the other writers a bit more freedom. Regardless, when the finished scripts are sent to the top writers, the latter do a final round of rewrites. Espenson also notes that a show that airs daily, with characters who have decades of history behind their voices, necessitates a writing staff without the distinctive voice that can sometimes be present in prime-time series.
Game shows feature live contestants, but still use a team of writers as part of a specific format. This may involve the slate of questions and even specific phrasing or dialogue on the part of the host. Writers may not script the dialogue used by the contestants, but they work with the producers to create the actions, scenarios, and sequence of events that support the game show's concept.
With the continued development and increased complexity of video games, many opportunities are available to employ screenwriters in the field of