In Focus: Scriptwriting

Posted on May 10, 2010 in Alternative Careers

Maria Thomas:

In these days of Ekta Kapoor’s tyrannical rule over our television screens, it is no surprise that many talented writers roll their eyes at the thought of scriptwriting as a career. Indian television shows have remained unimaginative and even corny since the dawn of time and hence the field of scriptwriting is more strongly associated with Bollywood movies. Here the glitz and glamour take on new peaks and successful scriptwriters are the crème de la crème of society. However, both fields present opportunities for creative growth, thanks to India’s rapid modernization that updates the themes that the audience can relate to. Thus, scriptwriting is fast becoming a lucrative and interesting career choice for those with great written skills.

Scriptwriting is slightly different from regular writing because it demands work that is fitted to a specific time; when working in the television industry, scriptwriters are expected to furnish new material for each episode that suits the timing of the show, its length and its expected audience. Hence, scriptwriters must spend time fine-tuning their ideas to exactly match the requirements of the show they are working on. Indeed, scriptwriting for a television show does not allow for extensive creative freedom as there are so many well-established limits but this does not mean that it isn’t a rewarding career choice; good scriptwriters will always be in demand and the salary paid is usually well worth the workload.

Some scriptwriters choose to work in theatre and this is definitely an outlet that allows for expansive creative expression. A scriptwriter is indeed the backbone of an entire production and with this role comes great responsibility as he alone must ensure the production is entertaining and engaging while also coherent. Scriptwriters must work closely with the director and other members of the production team to ensure success and so this job is certainly not only about the writing. You must be able to envision your material as the audience would so as to create a good flow of events. This doesn’t come easy and there are no institutes that can train you in this regard.

Scriptwriting is a field dependent entirely on experience; the more you write the more comfortable you will get with various themes and hence the better suited you will be for different types of productions. As a scriptwriter you could either work on a script on your own and then look for backers or you could work for a particular director or firm, following their requirements, if applicable.

The most important requirement for this career is the ability to express ideas in effective ways so that they can be appreciated by the audience. Scriptwriting requires no formal training and is thus an easy career to get started with provided you have a genuine interest in writing for the entertainment industry. Like all other professions, diligence and hard work will get you far but if you have a strong interest in writing you will never have a boring day at work! Episodes of the popular American TV show 30 Rock are evidence of the fun you can have while working as a scriptwriter and so you should definitely look into scriptwriting as a career if writing is your thing.