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Teleplay - Definition

By Expert Author: Roger Jenkins

If you are searching "teleplay definition," you have come to the right place. The definition of a teleplay is a screenplay written or adapted for television production. This could be anything from a comedy, drama, mystery, reality show, game show, soap opera, etc. A teleplay typically varies in length, from half an hour to an hour. The term 'teleplay' emerged in the 1950's to make a distinction between a screenplay that was written for films and a stage play composed for the theater. In the past, teleplays were telecast live from the studio, and had several constraining factors, the chief among them being the limitation imposed on the scenery and special effects. This limitation was overcome by the ingenious writers of that era by depicting intimate scenes and conflicts within the family, usually characterized by meaningful dialogues. The real-life element of teleplays was far better than theatrical plays, and its film adaptation could be enjoyed while sitting comfortably on a couch. The definition of teleplay underwent a sea of changes with the advancement in technology.
A teleplay definition can best be understood by segregating it from other closely related terms such as a screenplay, script, and theater play. A script is a broad term and can refer to a teleplay or a screenplay for the movies. A screenplay is used to connote a compilation carried out for the film industry. On the other hand, scripts for the stage are known as a theater plays. Teleplays have now come to be known as a distinctive family, under which there are different subclasses based on the air time and the contents.
There is no hard and fast rule about the number of words in a teleplay. In addition, the writer of a pilot is free to choose the tone, genre, characters and their idiosyncrasies, setting, time, and other details. Going by the definition of teleplay, it is commonly understood that a television show can be written to run for an hour or for half an hour. The hour long teleplays generally consist of 4-5 acts with built-in commercial breaks. Each page of written manuscript translates to a minute on the screen. This means that the total number of pages must not exceed 60 minutes or a maximum of 70 minutes in case the teleplay is quite loquacious. With 3 commercial breaks, the teleplay would just about fit into the one hour limit.
By now, you should have a better understanding of your query of "teleplay definition." 30 minutes of airtime would mean a two act sequel with one or two commercial breaks. Refrain from overloading your teleplay. Use a stroyboard to explain lengthy descriptions. Strictly speaking, a teleplay definition requires the writer to concentrate on the dialogues or what the characters say to one another, their actions and reactions or what they are doing or feeling, and place, time, and venue or where the characters are. There are basic guidelines to be followed regarding the format and the structure when readying a spec teleplay or a pilot. Try to understand the definition, the purpose, and conventions to be adhered to before attempting to write a teleplay. That way, you can avoid bungling or facing rejection and upsetting your ego. All teleplays must be compelling enough to draw the viewers back after the breaks, week after week. The commercial breaks should not be so lengthy that the viewers' span of attention is lost.

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