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Teleplay Format

By Expert Author: Adam Ross

Acquaint yourself with the right teleplay format before penning your teleplay. When it comes to format, the matter is that there is no hard and fast standardization when it comes to formatting a teleplay. Television was originally a descendent of the radio and not of films, therefore, it all about sound rather than the picture. Modern television, however, takes after films, and emphasis is laid on stage directions. Dialogues are all double spaced to help in distinguishing them from stage directions, which are all in capital letters. There is plenty of white space for jotting down notes. Teleplays come in many formats, depending on the type of show - dramas, sitcoms, action shows etc.
There is variation in the teleplay format according to the length of the show - whether it runs for an hour, half an hour or is the longer telefilm. It is best that you read as many scripts of the show that you wish to write for: read, analyze, dissect, know it inside out, and try to copy precisely the same format. Each page equals to approximately a minute on the television.
The right teleplay format should carry a cover page with the name of the TV show, name of the episode, and the author. The title page that follows should bear the same information along with the author's contact information. Typically, a one hour show consists of a teaser and four acts. This again may differ from one show to the other. The top of each page should have the numeric designation of each act centrally aligned. At the end of each act, write "End Act" with the number of the act in the center, double spaced below the word FADE or CUT that is used to depict the end of an act. The right teleplay format should begin each new act on a fresh page. The break between every act should ideally culminate in a climax. This is the actual hook and will goad viewers to continue to watch the show after the few minutes of commercials.
The teleplay format for sitcoms varies slightly for single camera format and multiple-camera format. The former is shot and formatted like a film, while the latter is the traditional type. The classic multiple-camera format has FADE IN and scene numbers in caps and underlined. Slug lines indicate the locale and time of day and are underlined. The slug line should be followed by the list of characters required for the act. Actions and descriptions are listed in capitals. Introduction of characters, sound effects, and camera instructions must be capitalized and underlined. All dialogue and names of characters must be double spaced and in caps. Personal directions, if any, must be enclosed in parentheses on the same line as the dialogues, to be in caps. The teleplay format for a single camera sitcom is almost the same as for the multiple cameras. It is important that you capture the format, tone, and style of the show for which you are writing.

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