A television show idea that is written out without being put in script form is called a treatment. It's a long synopsis that summarises everything that will happen within an episode, and it's written in prose form with little to no dialogue. Writing a television treatment before writing a script is advisable because you can read it like a story and see if it works before you spend time and energy completing a full script. A television treatment can also be useful when you try to sell a concept. These tips will show you how to write a television treatment.
- Skill level:
Create an outline of your television show idea. Try to break it up into acts with distinct breaks for the commercials. Leave each of these breaks on a cliffhanger that will make the audience want more.
Write the title at the top of the page in quotation marks. Two lines down, type the author "By: " centred on the page so it falls under the title. Skip two lines. Start at the left side of the page, and do not indent your paragraphs.
Set up the opening scene. It should be the first thing readers see so they can instantly get into the story. Describe things in the present tense so that the treatment reads as if it was happening just as the reader gets to it on the page. The first time you mention a character, capitalise his first name. Then add a comma, his age and a brief physical description so the reader can visualise him.
Describe the actions of the story--i.e., the key points that continue the plot and push things along. You can leave out the smaller filler items and dialogue. Include only key lines that change the story or become a catchphrase or common theme that propels things along and brings elements together later on.
Write each act in equal parts. If you're writing a four-page treatment then act one should be one page, act two should be about two pages and act three should be one page long. This is because the first act is 30 pages, the second 60 pages and the third another 30 pages. Keep the treatment as even as possible so the story seems to stay on the same flow time wise and makes sense to the reader.
Read the treatment aloud after you've written it and listen to how it sounds. You want it to read like a story stripped of all the adjectives, descriptive language and details that can make a book run on so long. Make sure you explain all the key story elements. Make corrections or changes as necessary.
Tips and warnings
- Keep your paragraphs relatively short so they are easy to read.
- Don't include too much dialogue.
- Avoid writing in the past tense.