nickelodeon writing fellowship – month 4

last year at this time, i was finishing up my 30 rock script so that i could apply for this fellowship.

fast forward a year, and i’ve already gone through 4 months of the fellowship! here’s what i’ve been working on:

the writing of this script went really smoothly once i figured out my outline.  i went through 3 drafts, and then it was approved. i can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a solid outline before you start writing. before the fellowship, i used to be lazier and would leave some elements vague in my outline, thinking that i could figure things out later as i wrote. not anymore! i try to make all the story decisions as early as possible so that i have more time to hone the jokes and dialogue as i move into later drafts.

on my first draft, i got notes about some structural issues, and i wasn’t quite getting the voices of some of the characters. i think part of this was because i wasn’t able to watch any episodes of the show. i did see 2 animatics, but those didn’t include all of the characters, so i didn’t know what some of the characters’ voices actually sounded like. to fix this, i went back and looked at all of the scripts i had access to. i made a separate final draft document where i wrote down snippets of dialogue from actual produced scripts. it was a reference file that i could go back to when i needed to see how a certain character spoke.

on my second draft, i fixed all of the structure and got the voices of the characters down, and only got specific notes on dialogue and jokes.  i handed in my third draft and will be getting notes tomorrow. hopefully i’ll move on to final draft and i’ll be done!

we started improv class at ucb. we have to do a performance at the end of the program, unlike at io west where i don’t think you have to/get to perform until you’re level 3 or so. something the teacher told us on the first day of class was don’t try to be funny. you just have to react honestly to what’s happening. you don’t need to try to think of jokes.

we’ll be volunteering once a week for 9 weeks at a nearby elementary school to help the 5th grader write screenplays! at the end of the program, they have a big show where they get actors to perform the scripts in front of students and family. it sounds like a great program. i wish i had something like this when i was a kid!

good luck to everyone who applied to the fellowship this year!

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  1. Thanks kiyong I did apply and (god willing) I will be following in your footsteps as a professional writer.

    I submitted a community spec, and my outline for the spec was very detailed.
    I cant wait until I get the results. But until then I’m still writing and prepairing to submit to the other fellowships.

    Btw did the nickelodeon staff request that you write a community spec
    while in the program?

    1. hey rick. congrats on submitting! writing and submitting to the other fellowships sounds like the perfect plan. you might also want to consider writing a pilot after you have a few solid specs, because that’s what agents want to read these days.

      as for the community spec, i had written one when i submitted to the fellowship so it was just supposed to be a rewrite, but i ended up changing it so much that it became a whole new script.

  2. Hi Kiyong,
    I really enjoy your blog and have found it quite informative. I was wondering if you’ve put your Office and 30 Rock specs anywhere online and if not would you consider making them availiable (possibly through email)? I applied to the fellowship and would love to read some winning scripts. I think it might help me to sorta know where I stand.
    Anyhow, Good luck with all you do!

    1. hey joe,
      i’ve had several people ask to read my specs, but i always decline. short film scripts are different because i already made the film and copyrighted both the script and the film. but tv specs are different. first, if i post my scripts or email them to people, it would be too easy for the less talented and less scrupulous people to steal storylines or jokes. second, and more importantly, i don’t think it would actually help you. i would suggest you do what i did, which was to evaluate my script against scripts from actual produced episodes of the show. when i wrote my specs of the office and 30 rock, i tried to read the scripts that were nominated for emmys. you should be striving for that level of craft.

  3. Thanks for the reply. I’ve looked online for actual scripts but haven’t had much success finding any. How would you suggest getting my hands on some?

  4. 1) if you’re in la, you can go down to the writers guild library and look at a bunch of scripts for free.

    2) if you can’t find scripts online, as a last resort, you can buy them from they’re like $10 a script, but you really must read actual scripts to study the show.

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