As a screenwriter, it's beneficial to point someone in the direction of produced work and be able to say, "I wrote that!" Creating a web series can be a cost-effective way to get your work out there and launch your career. A question many writers have is, "How do I write a web series?" There's a standard structure for feature and television scripts, but is there one for web series? How long should webisodes be? I'll answer all of your questions as I delve into how to write webisodes for a web series below.
How to Write Webisodes
Know What You're Writing, Know Where You're Going
Whether you're writing for TV or the web, you should always have an idea of where the story is headed in the future. You always want your stories to have legs, especially when it comes to episodic content. You should know where the story is going in seasons two and three. I'm not saying you need everything plotted out, but you should have an idea of what the future holds for your characters before writing a web series.
Episodic Web Series
Web series, or webisodes, are almost always episodic. It's not a feature broken down into pieces, but rather one episode after the next that individually contains a story while also building to tell the larger story of the season.
Length of Webisodes
There's no set length of time for webisodes; that's the beauty of it. Webisodes can be as long as 30 minutes and as short as two to five minutes an episode. I can tell you that shorter is often better when it comes to watching content on the internet. The nice thing about web series not having an expectation of time is that you can play around with your episodes' length and change them up according to how your audience responds. You also don't have to worry about commercial breaks! Although, there should still be a natural act structure to your storytelling.
Web Series Structure
While webisodes don't have some sort of industry-standard structure, no matter what you're writing, you should always keep in mind the basic structure of beginning, middle, and end. Thinking of things in the form of a simple three-act structure can prevent overcomplicating a script. Come up with a length of time for your webisodes and then structure your three (or four or five) acts accordingly.
You can also think of your season in the form of a three-act structure: the first few episodes are act one, the next couple are act two, and the final episodes are act three. Keep in mind your final episode should tease things to come and a future for your series.
Web series are more closely related to television than feature films, so when it comes to writing webisodes, I'd suggest looking at the structure of television shows for inspiration. TV episodes have teasers to hook the viewers' attention. The same should be done in your webisodes, only you have a lot less time to do it. You must grab a viewer's attention in the first 15 seconds of your webisodes.
The Freedom of Writing for the Web
The freedom to make a web series whatever you want is exciting! Don't be overwhelmed because it's not as straightforward as writing a feature screenplay or television script. Your creativity can really shine in the form of a web series, and it's often an accessible way to take your work from the page to the screen on a restrained budget. Pay attention to basic storytelling tenets; focus on crafting realistic, interesting characters, have contained stories that also speak to a larger story that keeps audiences coming back, and make the most of the time allotted for your webisode. Good luck, webisode writers.