Writing The TV Animation Premise
Jean Ann Wright.
You want to be an animation writer and you have some really cool ideas for your favorite show. So? First you have to write a sample script to submit to the story editor of that show. Try surfing online to find an actual animation script that you can use as a template for format. Write your sample script for a show that's similar to the show you want to pitch. DO NOT write a sample for the same show you want to pitch, as the story editor will know that show too well and he'll see only the script's flaws. Try to meet professional animation writers and story editors. Learn who they are by looking at the credits of animated shows. Join animation organizations. Go to seminars and workshops and introduce yourself to the writers and story editors there. Network! But never be a pest! When your sample script is ready, contact the story editor you want to pitch, and ask if you can submit a sample of your writing. Be sure it's your very best! You can submit a copy of your sample script to an animation agent as well, but an agent is not a must to find work.
Meeting the Story Editor
Before you meet with a story editor, watch as many episodes as you can of that story editor's show. Watch it when it airs; watch old episodes that you've previously taped or rented. Analyze the episodes. How long is each? What makes this show popular? How is it different? What's the level of reality? What are the rules of that cartoon universe? What makes it funny? Who are the main characters, and what makes them funny? Make notes about each. How many characters are in a typical episode? How many locations are used in each? Analyze the structure. Who wants what? Time exactly where each plot point comes in. What kind of humor is used? Is there a lesson, and how is it handled? Be sure you really know the main characters and their attitude! The more that you know about the show, the better chance you have of getting a shot at writing an episode. And usually you get that shot by submitting written premises or story ideas. Premises are short and written in narrative form. Unfortunately, there's no pay for writing them.
OK! The story editor likes your script, and you've set up a meeting. Come prepared with several imaginative, twenty-five-word-or-less ideas for episodes, springboards that you can pitch verbally, if asked. Request a bible of the show, a script and a copy of several premises. The writer's bible contains information about the show and the show's characters. Listen carefully to everything the story editor tells you, and make notes. Ask questions. Does this show have an A plot and a B plot? Short cartoons do not, longer cartoons often do. Does the show have a joke ratio per page? What are the demographics or target age of this show? And is the target specific, or are the executives hoping for a wide range of viewers? What length does the story editor want your premises to be? Usual length is about one page, but each story editor has his own preference. How many premises does the editor want you to write before submitting the batch...three, four? When do you need to submit your first batch? Animation writing deadlines are usually very short, and you'll want to submit your ideas quickly. As a new writer, you'll probably be lucky to have one idea selected. And you may have to submit premises a number of times before any are given the go-ahead.
Meeting the Story Editor