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I have a specific way of writing when it comes to describing things in a visual medium, like video games, movies, or shows. I'm not a prose writer; I always wanted to write for visual media, not novels or short stories. I've been working on a hypothetical animated show. I doubt I would ever actually get to make an animated show with a dedicated team, but on the off-chance that I become happy enough with my work to at least approach someone, I want to give the right impression.

I've looked into screenplays and I have to say, it's absolutely not my style. I'm just not used to writing this way, so I have to force myself to rewrite a lot to get it in the right format. The way I write things is more like a transcript, example here.

I know screenplays are the professional standard if you were to approach a studio, for example, but my hypothetical animated show would be a lot smaller in scale, more like a Machinima series (R.I.P) done by a few people who do this as a hobby and/or earn something on the side, specifically 3D animators. In my example, it would be one guy I would approach, specifically with a two minute short and the first episode.

If you're a hobbyist and the people you want to approach are also hobbyists (in the sense that they are independent), is a screenplay really necessary? Or would most people be happy with a transcript style "screenplay"? Would a screenplay maybe even be overblown and actually turn off "non-professional" people?

  • I did a strong edit on your question to make it a bit shorter and to the point. Hopefully this will keep it open, as I think it's a good question. If you're unhappy with any part of my edit, do change it back. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jan 25 '19 at 17:31
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I'm not sure who is better to answer this question than the hobbyists you want to approach.

Like you say, if you want to be taken seriously by professionals, then you need to meet the professional standard.

But if you're wondering whether hobbyists would be fussed, it really depends on the individual. Once you step away from the standard there's no way of saying what 'most people' would be happy with, or indeed if there would be any continuity between them at all.

My advice is that if you are just doing this for enjoyment, and you're not that precious about the outcome, then just go ahead and do it the way that makes you happy.

If the people you're approaching feel the same way as you, then there's a good chance they'll be flexible about what you can give them, and if they're not pros, they may not even know what the industry standards are in the first place, let alone care.

But if you want an accurate answer to this question - ask the hobbyists...

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Every genre has its own style and professional standards. There may be multiple standards for subsets of a genre as well. They don't exist to make your task difficult, even though the learning process can drive you crazy. They exist for consistency and utility.

What you call a "transcript" style is actually very similar to finished scripts that comic book writers use. In that case, you'd give more description for the artist (not the reader) and break the story up page by page, panel by panel.

A script for live action is not going to be the same as one for animation. The level of description, settings, art style, etc will be very different. The underlying screenplay format may be the same or similar though.

TheNovelFactory is correct; your next step is to ask the people you want to work with. The point of formatting is to make it useful for the person you're giving it to. So ask them what is the most useful. Your "transcript" style is an earlier step before a full screenplay, and it may be what they want, if they will be deciding much of the visuals.

That said, go learn the proper formats. Yes, it's very awkward to write in a way you're not used to, but it's something you need to learn, even if you never write it that way. If your scripts will be turned into full screenplays by someone else, you'll need to understand screenplay format so you can give enough information for this to happen. Eventually, you will be comfortable doing it yourself.

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