Long gone are the days where cat videos were the sole rulers of the internet. Today, modern audiences are hungry for compelling dramas and original fictions easily accessible from any device. Within this context, web series have flourished in the past few years.
So what's the key to writing a successful web series that will make you stand out from the crowd?
Let's take a look at the first indie web series ever nominated for an Emmy award, Her Story to find out the answer.
1. Keep it short and sweet
Simplicity is crucial with web series. Online audiences expect to watch episodes that are generally around 10 minutes long max. As such, web series often have a cast of 3-5 characters maximum evolving within one location. Her Story, for example, has two main characters, Violet and Paige and takes places in the urban environment of Los Angeles. Overall, each episode is around 8 minutes long and the whole series includes 6 episodes.
2. Catch them with a hook
It is a fact that all online audiences have short attention spans. As such, your story should have a hook to grab their attention within the first 10-15 seconds. Ideally, the perfect hook will introduce the theme, premise, and main characters of your story. The premise of Her Story focuses on two queer and transgender women and their life and love experiences in LA. The series introduces these characters and themes very well within a super short time span. In the first 15 seconds, we meet transgender waitress Violet, in a bar where one of the customers discusses a journalistic piece on transgender women.
3. Start in the middle
One thing that writing web series will teach you is to cut all forms of exposition. There's simply no time for it. The best way to do this is to start your story anywhere, except at the beginning. The opening scene of Her Story does this by starting in a bar where we meet the main characters without any previous introduction into their lives. This also works well as part of the hook as it raises many questions that will motivate the audience to keep watching.
Interested in finding out more about web series? My next workshop on Apr. 12th will explore the narrative structure and genre in depth. Through practical exercises, you will also have the opportunity to develop your own web series idea. Find out more...
Written by Alizée Musson
*Image credit: screenshots from the web series Her Story
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