nickelodeon writing fellowship – notes on my script

yesterday, i got a call from karen, the director of the nickelodeon writing fellowship. i met with her last week and she was kind enough to read my script and give me notes on the 30 rock script that i’ve been working on.

here are some of her notes. i tried to organize them in order of importance:

  • it isn’t clear what the A story, B story, and C stories are. the different storylines must be clear, and the A story especially needs to be very strong.
  • i have a new character (sort of) in this spec, and the rules regarding how that character behaves are unclear. i guess this is one reason why the general rule of thumb is to only use the stock characters of the show in a spec.
  • it isn’t funny enough. this is because i spent too much time working out the logic of the structure.
  • which made me realize that i need to simplify. i definitely feel the script is lacking clarity right now, and that stems from my indecisiveness. i was also told the script at times read more like a feature, and i don’t have a lot of time in a 30 minute tv show. i need to get to the point quicker.
  • the jenna storyline seems a bit too familiar. i’ll have to think of something more original that captures the essence of that character.
  • i structured it based off the few season 1 scripts i read, where the show just has 2 acts. karen told me i should add a cold open.
  • i wrote it in movie magic screenwriter, and she told me i should use final draft. the page formatting is a little different (final draft has more white space).

that’s a lot of notes! but they’re all very helpful and i’m very grateful karen took the time to read it over. i knew when i gave it to her that this needed a lot of work, but it really helped to get a fresh pair of eyes to look it over. also, i haven’t worked on it for a week or so, so that should make me a little more objective during the rewrite.

i’m going back to the outline phase and making changes there, then i’ll write and polish. i have 3 weeks before the submission deadline!

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  1. Hey Kiyong; I just wanted to say that I happened across your blog today and have already found it super informative and upbeat! Please count me as one of your fans rooting for you from within the tubes.

    1. hi betsy,
      no, karen didn’t say that i shouldn’t have had a new character in my spec. that was just my own feeling. people usually say not to introduce any major new characters in a spec, and the character i wrote fits that because he’s only in there for this one episode. i think it would have been much easier to stick with the show’s regulars, though. i’ll definitely rethink any story ideas that involve new characters in any future specs i write.

  2. Great and thanks for the information. Also working on a spec and the rules in this business changes so often that it’s always good to hear what the rules are. Thanks again Kiyong and good luck for this year’s Nick Fellowship.

  3. Hi! Just wondering if there was any advice you had for someone aspiring to join this program. I feel like the scriptwriting courses at my current school haven’t been the best, so I’ve tried really hard to seek resources outside that environment to improve my stuff, but would love some personal advice from people who’ve been there!

    1. hey rekha. i would read ellen sandler’s book – the tv writer’s workbook. read that, and do all the exercises she suggests, like breaking down scripts to really see their structure. if you do it, you’ll understand the show on a level you hadn’t before. then you have to pick a good show (i would pick a live action network sitcom), have strong act breaks, write great dialogue, be funny on every page, and that might get you past the first round! then come the interviews…

      1. Thanks for the advice! I’ve always had trouble acquiring scripts for television shows I want to write a spec for … any suggestions for that?
        Thank you, again! It’s really helpful to hear it so clearly broken down.

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