Sure! There are plenty of resources for those who might be interested in writing for animation!
Writing for an animated television show or movie isn’t all that different from writing for a live action show or film. There are certainly different schools of thought pertaining to the subject - so it’s important to gather as much information as possible and make your own judgments. Also, be weary if you search on Google because most people are just trying to sell you their books on how to be a writer. I’ll list a few of my personal favorite books at the end of this post; books that I’ve used in school while taking creative writing and screen writing classes.
A lot of animation writers will cram as much information as they can into a script. Some writers will even say that every two pages of an animated script should equal about a minute of running time - while a live action script is a page per minute of film. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case though. John K. even argues that a single page of script should equal two minutes of film.
Some argue that an animated script needs to be longer and needs to have more information in order to make a storyboard artists job easier; when really you may just be making it harder. The more information there is on a page of script - the more your storyboard artist is going to have to draw. And just like John K. says before you know it you’re paying thousands of dollars for stuff that’s gonna get cut out of the film anyway.
I would personally trust my storyboard artists to fill in the details themselves. It is their job anyway to visualize the film and provide certain visual cues and ideas. But as the writer it is necessary to provide the basic details such as the time of day, setting, characters involved in the scene, dialog, and even providing the type of shot and camera movement that may be involved in the scene. That should be enough for any storyboard artist to understand. You don’t have to write a novel in order to get the idea across that your character got up from the couch and walked across the living room to the kitchen.
As a storyboard artist I’ve boarded scripts that were too complicated and filled with far too much detail and I drew a lot of boards that were cut because of this. When I get a script that is easy to read and provides simple basic information and nothing more - I just want to hug that writer!
Whether you’re writing something long and complicated, or simple and short - always make sure that it has your vision. Don’t sell yourself short!
But really, it depends on who and what you’re writing for.
In the 30’s Disney created the idea that animated film should be as close to life and reality as possible… and their scripts were pretty complicated at the time because of this! But thankfully guys like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and the fellas at Termite Terrace kind of broke the Disney tradition. Writing was made simple and the most important and necessary things were left in the hands of the artists - exactly where it should be! Neither approach is wrong though…
In the end, different studios approach writing for animation differently. Some prefer it to be a long, complicated, and winded script… some just want the basics. So it’s important to read what you can and write how ever you feel comfortable writing. So I’ll try to list a few different resources and hopefully they will all help in your quest to be a writer!
Screenwriting Book Resources:
- The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler
- Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
Animation Book Resources that writers should read:
- The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston
- Animation: The Whole Story by Howard Beckerman
- The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams
If anyone else has any more sources or references that they want to add, please feel free to reblog and add them!
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