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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Hey aspiring animation writers! There aren't a ton of kid's (particularly preschool) writing resources out there so I thought I'd start a thread with some basic animation writing tips.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Animation is a visual medium. Your action description needs to carry the story as much as your dialogue. The general rule is no more than three pieces of dialogue without action.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Particularly in preschool, your characters shouldn't do anything dangerous/violent that can be imitated by the kids at home.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Anything PG-ish is probably a no-no. I remember in the first script that I was actually paid to write, I had a scene where a character basically ate a tainted donut that made him go to sleep. I didn't know any better. THAT'S A NO-NO.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
You can't show characters ingesting anything that might be harmful. Real kids can imitate that. That would be very bad.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
But whimsical spins that can't be imitated by kids are okay. I.E., a character could cast a sleeping spell that made the character sleep.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
No one dies in kids TV animation.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Animation script length: 11 minutes = 15 pages, 22 minutes = 30 pages. (This is overly general and will depend on the show.)
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Shea Fontana 🐝
Kids shows generally focus on kid (sometimes teen) characters. It's pretty rare to have the main character be an adult (and when that happens, it's usually a pre-existing character like Batman).
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
OTHER KIDS TV WRITERS -- FEEL FREE TO ADD IN YOUR TIPS.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Back on that ingesting thing, this generally also applies to magic potions. No swallowing magic potions.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Violence/Fighting in preschool -- we're definitely continually shifting away from showing hitting / direct contact, even with action/superhero shows.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Characters can't get hit in the head (with anvils or otherwise).
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Superheroes can hit robots or other inanimate objects.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
(These are general thoughts to help with writing samples, specs, and your early work in animation. Specific shows will have their own rules and their own "special episodes" that do things differently.)
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
A thing you hear a lot in early preschool writing is "see and say." That means the character's dialogue reiterates/explains what's happening on screen.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Particularly in preschool, watch the negative/mean/hurting humor. There's a fine line between funny/silly pratfall and character getting sucker punched.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Personally, I don't like it when a character's appearance is the basis for a joke, even if it's coming from the POV of an antagonist.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Kids TV Animation is generally divided into two sections: Kids (usually targeting kids 6-11) and Preschool (up to 6). "Bridge Kids" refers to 5-7 (depending on who you're talking to).
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Obviously a two year-old is in a very different place developmentally than a six year-old. So, preschool shows sometimes target either the younger or older end of the demo. Younger - think Peppa Pig. Older - think Paw Patrol.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @LiamKavanagh17
Great point from -- in preschool, kids having big "secrets" can be problematic. We also want to show adults believing kids who come to them with information. See also: how Sesame Street changed how Snuffleupagus is portrayed.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
I don't care what your English teacher said -- it's okay to use adjectives. Clarity is more important than pretty sentences. Clarity above all.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Use character's names in dialogue. Otherwise, how will the viewers know what their names are?
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Make sure every character in the scene has a line/purpose. If you have a whole team there, they each need a reason to be there.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Yeah, there are exceptions to everything I've posted here. Just trying to share what I have learned and what I look for.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
You should proofread your scripts way better than I'm proofing this thread :)
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Being fast / early on deadlines isn't necessarily a positive. As a new writer, I often fell into this, "Look, I'm done already!" mentality. But TV shows are on very specific schedules and the notes givers likely won't have time to look at a script until it was due.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Plus, if your script is early and it isn't the best script ever, the reader will think, "The writer should've taken more time on this." EVERY script can benefit from you taking a day off and coming back to it with fresh eyes.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Keep your script samples recent. In this the year of our Lord 2020, I received a sample from 1999. 1999!?!?!? Not a typo, that's when the show was in production.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Feel free to ask me animation writing questions and I will try to answer them here as time permits.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Call out clearly when a character enters or exits. Has a character been there the whole time but hasn't had a line for two pages? Make sure we know when they showed up and why they haven't said anything. Keeping a character "alive" usually means hearing their voice.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
If you're asked to pitch springboards for a show, unless specifically asked otherwise, stick with stories that don't "break" the show. For example, "Lois discovers that Superman is Clark Kent" or "SpogeBob moves to a new town" are show breakers.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
Particularly for CG shows, if you are pitching (unless told otherwise), be careful about introducing lots of new characters. New characters = big costs. The most likely approved springboard from a freelancer is one that focuses on the established characters.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
An easy trick to making sure your pitches are character driven, use the set up. "Character X wants ______ but ______."
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @Carleey
Question from re: how much action description: You can definitely be more detailed and verbose in your description in animation. The animation writer tends to direct on the page more than live action writers. But focus on things that are integral to the story.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 8
Replying to @SheaFontana
For example, the color or type of clothes someone is wearing probably isn't integral to the story unless it comes up as a plot point. Only add details as necessary for plot clarity.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 9
Replying to @SheaFontana
Simplicity is one of the hardest things to execute.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Jun 17
Replying to @SheaFontana
For pilots (or any new location), give a short description of the location including where it is in relations to the last location we were in. Visually executing going from Barb's house to Sally's house will happen differently depending if it's next door or across the country.
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Shea Fontana 🐝 Aug 19
Replying to @SheaFontana
General writing biz tip: If you follow up with someone by email after an introductory conversation, reintroduce yourself and your request/reason for emailing in the email. More than once, I get an email and I cannot remember what I said I'd do in response.
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