15 Things That Make Television Writing Different From Web Writing

Television is a writer’s medium. You live or die by the quality of your scripts, so it’s important to know what makes for good writing for TV. So let’s talk about some of the ways that writing dialogue and storylines for the big screen differ from the small screen.

Tip of the Tongue | Writing for Television (w/ Alan Denton)
1. Television writing requires visual storytelling skills.
2. Web writing focuses on concise and scannable content.
3. Dialogue in television scripts serves multiple purposes.
4. Web writing prioritizes user engagement and interaction.
5. Character development in television involves visual cues.
6. Web writing emphasizes search engine optimization (SEO).
7. Television scripts adhere to strict time constraints.
8. Web content often uses hyperlinks to provide context.
9. Visual elements in television scripts guide emotions.
10. Web writing leverages multimedia to enhance content.

1. How Your Script Is Formatted

The first thing to know about formatting is that you’re going to need a title page, character breakdown, and a brief logline. A sample script is not necessary but it can help the reader visualize what your writing will look like on-screen. 

Your script should be double-spaced and in standard fonts, such as Courier New or Times New Roman, or even Comic Sans if you’re feeling particularly bold (but please don’t do this). 

The industry standard is PDF format: just make sure your file isn’t too large (under 10 MB) before uploading it!

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2. How You Pitch Your Writing

It’s not uncommon for web writer to pitch their work. If you’re pitching a story idea, you’ll want to be sure that it’s something the person in charge of buying the script likes.

You don’t need previous TV experience or credits because most shows are written by teams of writers, so your job would be as part of a team anyway!

When you’re pitching TV writing gigs, keep in mind that there are many different types of producers with different levels of power when it comes time to make decisions about who gets hired on their show. 

Some producers just have to say over casting decisions like actors and guest stars whereas others get the final say when it comes time decide whether or not someone will be hired as a staff writer for their show.”

3. How You Write Dialogue

Dialogue should be natural and realistic. Once you’ve nailed down the basic structure of a scene and figured out how you want to move it along, it’s time to start writing. 

This part can be tricky for writers new to TV because TV scripts are generally shorter than those in film and don’t contain as much description or explanation of character or setting (since those things are clear from watching). 

For this reason, they rely heavily on dialogue to get across what’s happening visually and emotionally.

Dialogue should be concise and to the point. In addition to being succinct, effective dialogue also has a rhythm that feels right for each particular story: sometimes playful; sometimes dead serious; sometimes funny; sometimes sad; 

But always true-to-character in the moment while still moving things forward towards some sort of resolution or cliffhanger at end of act break (if applicable). 

It will also usually include some kind of verbal clue about what kind of mood someone might set if they were physically present but not always! 

Sometimes characters say things without realizing their full impact until later when everyone else hears them too late… That kind of thing happens all too often on TV shows like Scandal where everyone already knows who killed whom before anyone else does anyway!

Dialogue should be consistent with character traits established earlier in the script so we know how people would react under given circumstances–and yet still surprise us at times when appropriate too so we don’t feel like watching robots doing everything according

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4. When To Write Exposition And When To Avoid It

Writing exposition is tricky. It’s the information that your audience needs to know to understand your story the who, what, when, and where of the plot. 

It’s most often delivered through dialogue (think of a detective interrogating a suspect), but it can also be written as a voiceover or even a character’s internal monologue (think about how Tony Soprano speaks directly to the audience).

Exposition can serve many purposes: it might function as a backstory for one or more characters; it might be used to set up an upcoming twist; or it might simply provide context for viewers who are unfamiliar with certain aspects of pop culture (say, so-and-so, is dead). 

But no matter what its purpose may be, exposition must always be handled delicately because it risks boring readers if not done well.

One way writers avoid boring their audiences while still delivering important information is by weaving exposition into dialogues between two characters who already know everything they need to know.

But are just explaining things out loud so we do too a method often employed in television shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Office US

5. How Long You Can Repeat Words In The Dialogue

In a screenplay, you have to be careful with the number of times you can repeat words. In television, there’s no such thing as using the same word too much (or too infrequently).

A script will read better if it doesn’t have an excessive number of repeating words. But when writing for TV, don’t worry about this as much. 

The words don’t need to jump out and grab your attention every time they appear on screen they’re just part of the flow that creates a character’s voice or propels a plot forward in some way.

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6. What Type Of Language Is Acceptable In A Television Script

In general, you should use standard written English for your TV scripts. It’s fine to use contractions (e.g., don’t, doesn’t), but try to avoid using them unnecessarily, as they may make the final product seem too casual or informal. 

You should also avoid using slang words, jargon, and sarcasm unless they are necessary for conveying information or conveying the character’s personality and sense of humor.

7. The Importance Of Story Structure

Story structure is the foundation of your script. It’s the skeleton, or backbone, of your story. It’s what holds everything together, and without it, your narrative will fall apart like an old car without a frame.

Story structure is also the foundation of your show; a series that has no solid story structure can flounder when faced with any sort of adversity (or even minor conflict).

Writing for television is different from writing for the web because it requires more focus on developing a solid short-term plan and long-term strategy than web writing does but the basics are still there: 

You need to develop engaging characters who have goals and obstacles to overcome; those goals must be tied into some kind of larger theme; those themes should have an impact on both themselves as well as their surrounding world(s).

8. The Need For A Solid Premise And Goal For Each Episode

The first thing to understand is that writing for television is a different beast. It requires a different approach than web writing, which tends to be more reactive and instantaneous. In television, you have to plan to write strong premises and goals for each episode. 

So what exactly is a premise? It’s the idea behind your show the storyline that will drive it forward through all of its seasons or even just one season if it’s a limited series (think FX’s American Crime Story). 

A good premise should be relatable enough so that people care about what happens next but unique enough so they don’t see it coming from another show or movie they’ve already seen before.

A solid goal should also be relatable and interesting enough on its own but still have something new about it; otherwise, there would just be no reason for anyone else besides yourself (or maybe one other person) to care about whatever happens next! 

If you’re stuck trying to come up with ideas for either type of premise/goal combo here are some questions: Does my idea have potential? Would people watch this show based solely on what I’ve written here? 

Is this idea fresh enough so as not to seem derivative of other popular shows/movies out there right now? Can I imagine myself enjoying watching this show repeatedly every week without getting sick of it even after several seasons’ worth of episodes?

If yes answers all these questions then congratulations because you’ve got yourself a solid premise/goal combo!

9. Character Depth And Complexity

One of the biggest differences between television writing and web writing is character depth and complexity.

Character development is one of the most important aspects of television writing because it’s what makes viewers care about (and keep watching) your show. 

Character development includes everything from backstory to motivation, arc, consistency, flaws, and relationships pretty much everything that defines a character but doesn’t directly relate to plot or structure (which we’ll talk more about later).

On a website or blog post, you can usually get away with having one main character with no real depth or complexity: it’s their job as narrator/source/authority figure. 

But in television writing? You need characters who are complex enough to carry an entire series worth of episodes; they have to be relatable enough for viewers so they can connect with them right off the bat; 

They need depth so that viewers feel like they’ve grown along with them over time; they must have flaws so they’re interesting enough not just as “heroes” but also as people who make mistakes too; 

Their relationships should drive forward plot points that move us through multiple seasons’ worth and even if these relationships don’t feel like conventional ones at first glance! 

It all comes down to making sure these characters are realistic enough for people through reflection rather than idealization (or worse yet: caricature).

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10. Creating Dynamic Characters, Not Static

Your Characters Need To Change Over Time

In TV and film, the audience needs to see character development from beginning to end. They need to know what their goal is and how they achieve it, or if they don’t achieve their goal why not? 

Characters should also have clear motivations for pursuing their goals in the first place. In addition, they should have an arc that shows their journey from beginning to end — this is where you’ll use all of those character traits we talked about earlier!

Your Characters Should Have A Backstory That Fits Into The Show’s Narrative: Each Episode Needs A Reason Why It’s Happening Now Instead Of Later (Or Sooner)

This means that each episode contains everything necessary for someone who has never seen the show before to understand what’s going on without missing out on anything important in terms of story development or character growth!

11. Developing Characters With Arcs

The most important thing you learn when writing a series is that character arcs are crucial. If a character doesn’t change, why should the audience care? In web writing, it’s okay if your main character stays the same (or gets worse). 

You can even have an episode where they do nothing but eat donuts and watch Netflix. But on television, it has to be different every week. The audience expects something new from you each time they turn on their TV and with good reason: 

They want to see growth in your characters’ lives. And if there’s no growth? Well, then what’s the point of watching this show again next week?

If you’re looking for suggestions on how to develop characters with strong arcs throughout your series: look no further than Breaking Bad! 

Walter White starts as just another chemistry professor who wants nothing more than for his pregnant wife not to die in childbirth before he does but after years of battling cancer and stripping him of his pride as a man (not once but twice).

He becomes Heisenberg a ruthless drug lord who will stop at nothing until his family is safe from harm…or so we thought until season 5 when things started going downhill again…”

12. Showing Character Growth As The Series Progresses

In television, character growth is important. It’s so important that if you don’t show a character growing in your series and instead just have them stay the same (or even get worse), people are going to notice.

You can’t just have a character do something once before they become better or more mature. 

Once they’ve accomplished one thing, they need to keep moving forward in their journey to self-improvement even if it means taking some steps backward before they take many more steps forward.

Character growth can be shown through actions and thoughts so long as those actions/thoughts are consistent with what we know about the character based on previous episodes or seasons of the show. 

In addition, characters’ relationships with each other will change over time; this is also an opportunity for moving forward in terms of development because relationships between two people change as well!

13. Creating Characters That Have Real Problems Instead Of Fake Drama And Contrived Issues

What’s the point of writing a TV show if you don’t want to create interesting and relatable characters? There are plenty of shows out there with flat characters, but they’re not nearly as popular as shows with well-developed ones.

When you create a character with real problems, you can see how these problems affect their lives in different ways (i.e., one person might get drunk every night because he has no friends; another person might start working at Starbucks so she can support her kids).

If a character has real problems and then goes through something terrible like an accident or death it will make them stronger instead of weaker (i.e., losing someone close to them). That’s what makes us root for them!

14. Writing Characters That Learn And Change Over Time

As a television writer, you’ll be expected to write characters who are consistent in their reactions and responses, who have clear motivations and goals, and who consistently express the same beliefs and values.

In web writing, on the other hand, your character is likely to change over time. You can’t let the reader know she’s changed unless you tell her so explicitly–and even then it’s hard! 

It’s much easier to allow readers to come up with their conclusions about whether or not your characters have evolved based on what they see in front of them (or don’t).

In television writing, there are many times when we need our characters to act one way until something happens that changes their minds completely–this is a great example of how TV writers must master character consistency at all costs!

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15. The Importance Of Consistent Character Responses Throughout The Series

Even when you’re writing for a TV series, you need to remember that character consistency is important. Consistency is not only a sign of good writing; it’s also how your audience identifies with your characters and makes it easier for them to follow the story.

As a web writer, this doesn’t mean much to you because there aren’t any characters in your web writing (unless they’re fictional). 

However, if you ever decide to switch to television writing later on in your career, or perhaps even if you want to try writing fiction you’ll find that having consistent character responses throughout the series makes things much easier for everyone involved.


So there you have it: the differences between writing for the web and writing for television. We hope we’ve given you enough information to get started or at least enough inspiration to get your creative juices flowing again. 

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on Facebook or Twitter! You can also check out the link below for more resources about TV writing.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that can provide valuable insights related to writing, content creation, and television scripting:

MasterClass: How to Write a TV Script Short Description: Learn the fundamentals of crafting compelling TV scripts and kickstart your journey into television writing with this MasterClass guide.

EDIS IFAS: Effective Writing for Web and Social Media Short Description: Enhance your web and social media writing skills with practical tips and techniques shared in this EDIS IFAS publication.

DemandJump Blog: Examples of Content Writing and When to Use Each Short Description: Explore ten diverse examples of content writing and gain insights into when to employ each type for maximum impact.


What is the key to successful television script writing?

Crafting a successful television script requires a blend of engaging storytelling, well-defined characters, and a deep understanding of the medium’s dynamics.

How can I improve my web and social media writing?

To enhance your web and social media writing, focus on clarity, brevity, and understanding your target audience’s preferences and needs.

What are some common types of content writing?

Content writing comes in various forms, including blog posts, articles, whitepapers, social media posts, email marketing, and more.

How do I know which type of content writing to use for specific goals?

Choose your content writing type based on your goals; for instance, use blog posts for informative content, social media posts for engagement, and whitepapers for in-depth exploration.

What are the benefits of mastering different styles of content writing?

Mastering different content writing styles allows you to effectively convey your message across diverse platforms, catering to various audience preferences and platforms.