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09/29/2001 - One-Hour Teleplay Construction & Plot

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

One-Hour Teleplay Construction & Plot

Over the years certain types of story construction have proven to be the most effective on TV. What's the definition of "effective?" Simple-series that plot their stories this way have gotten consistently higher ratings and fewer viewers have gone surfing away.

For one-hour shows, start with a Teaser that in essence states the premise of the episode (tells us what the story is going to be about) and ends on a note of tension-either impending danger or the exact moment of of the danger.

Act One then begins with some kind of aftermath or response to what happened in the Teaser, and ends with tension again. Depending on the kind of series this is, the tension can be personal to a regular, or it can be something happening to a "guest."

Act Two obviously begins with the aftermath or resolution of the previous tension, and concludes with MAJOR trouble for a regular, most likely the main hero him or herself.

Act Three starts by resolving the previous danger and saving the hero, and ends with the hero and his/her allies putting together all the pieces of whatever puzzle they've been trying to solve so that they now know what to do. However, the major crisis and climax of the whole episode comes right here, and it's this: Even though they know the answer, they are still a step behind the dangerous force, and it's about to strike.

Act Four then becomes the good guys racing to the rescue and getting there just in time. The Tag lets them all relax about it.

There we go, another one-hour drama or action show perfectly plotted!


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