Animated Movie Writers Checklist

Things that you need to check off

Okay, so your script for your new animated comedy drafted, re-drafted and re-re-drafted. You think to yourself it’s finally finished, but hold your horses there cowboy. You’ve got to make sure that you have all the essentials locked down. No movie can be complete without the check list below (from Cartoon Brew):

You’ve got to have a Martial Arts Scene it’s a must have. Just take a look at  Kung Fu Panda and the Little Penguins of Madagascar. But what else do you think is missing from the list. Surely there’s needs to be some sort of pop-culture reference, or that joke that’s too dirty for the kids to know about but makes the adults in the theaters roar with laughter

What other writing essentials are there to making an animated comedy? 

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Seth MacFarlane’s Secret and the 3 Animation Script Concepts That Will Sell

What the Networks and Studios want to see?

You have the thought of developing a completely incredible script for your cartoon series so you can sell to a network but do you have what they want?

There are three main sources execuitves work from when developing the cartoons we see on our television screens.

Classic Cartoon Characters


The classics are always the best right? Classic characters have what networks call “marquee value”. Which means they are familiar and so will have an audience that will already be lying in wait to watch. When developing your cartoon script having these types of characters will be in your favor, you see networks most often develop series from this angle because they do not want to spend thousands in creating new characters no one has ever heard of.

It’s one of the main reasons you have series such as;

  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command where we have Buzz taken from the blockbuster animated feature length comedy Toy Story.
  • The Adventures of Johnny Quest where a classic character was taken and then updated for the audience of today.

Try putting  cartoon characters  in a time machine for fresh ideas

I know what your thinking cartoon characters don’t age- I mean your right, Bart Simpson has been ten years old since The Simpsons had line boil but applying some lineages magic can help you get that script looking a sold idea.

Creating new cartoons from old characters with a new look will be in your favor since there will be no reason for an introduction.

Examples will be

  • Yogi Bear who got shoved in the time machine and was turned into Yo, Yogi!
  • A Pup Named Scooby Doo from Scooby Doo had the same treatment but I don’t advise making them old, let’s be honest how much of a story can come from ‘ An OLD Hound Named Scooby Doo’.

An idea you can pitch in a sentence.

Tiny Toons from the Looney Tunes. Taking an old idea and making it high-concept means you can describe your idea in a few sentences and it’s not because you forgot your lines but it’s because there’s no need for more words to be said.

This makes it marketable when you pitch your idea making it appealing because the bottom line for these networks is money-money-money. How much will the series generate? It’s what is constantly on their cash hungry pockets minds and if your idea has the big dollar sign on it then it’s a go go.

Marquee Ideas


These are ideas are where you rip off- sorry, capitalize on previous success of films, comic books, film stars, video games anything really, you name it.

This is a sure fire hit or miss. Shows that have been created from this are;

  • Ace Venture Pet Detective from the film
  • Or the lasagna eating ornage cat Garfield– oh and his friends.
  • Men In Black the Animated Series taken from Men In Black.

The list goes on. Come to think about it they weren’t to original with the names. Scratch that, I mean what else would you call Men In Black? Men In Dark Suits With Black Ties and White Shirts just doesn’t work I guess.

Stand up for your rights

Slight problem with using this concept for an animated script idea would be that you need the rights to create it, which makes things a lot more difficult for yourself when trying to pitch it to some executive.

Original Concepts


The originals concept, this is where it gets hard. They are hardest to get off the ground at a network or studio because of the amount of money, time and energy.

I bet your wondering where The Simpsons and South Park come into play here, well Networks such as Fox, MTV and Comedy Central have had success with shows such as the previous mentioned. These are original ideas that have worked well because of their target markets.

Seth MacFarlanes Secrets Technique – Combine  Concepts.

Seth Macfarlane created Family Guy and we all know how similar it is to The Simpsons. To the point that they even draw up on it in the episodes themselves. Family Guy is an original idea to some extent but it also takes the concept of using classic cartoons. With the audience of The Simpsons, Family Guy already had half the work done for it so all Seth had to do was change the names a little bit.

Then you have the other of Seth’s creations American Dad and Cleveland Show which are almost carbon copies but they are successful because ? There’s an audience out there, so when think of writing your cartoon script take a note and think, is there an audience already there?

Toys R us

Executives tend to want to use original concepts that come from a toy or game such as

  • The addictive game that follows a young boy who wants to become a Pokemon master, weird the name of the show skips my memory
  • GI Joes.

This works because of those screaming kids saying they want the game after watching the show , then they want the T shirt- how do I know, well I was on of them. A network will look at the invest and see that there is a large return to make in revenue and will like the script idea.

Audience in mind.

Not only keep in mind who your writing for but make sure there’s enough of them out there. Creating shows for girls generally doesn’t go as mainstream and successful as those tailored to boys. Studies indicate girls watch  variety of shows and are not gender orientated.

If you want to develop a spec (writing on the speculation that you are going to sell the idea) then you need to have a cartoon bible for your series.

Seth Macfarlane’s Secret

Seth MacFarlane may be talented but he’s also seriously lucky. How did people not realize all of his shows were the same up until this point?

MacFarlane knew of the success through writing a script with an ‘original concept’ just watch the video below by College Humor as proof.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Do cartoon animations use puns?

It’s a hook to make you laugh, used by characters like Peter Pun.

Cartoons are made to make you laugh. When you watch your favorite animated comedy show. There are many techniques that the script writer will use while writing to make you laugh.

It will make your BedRock

Think of something simple as names. Peter Pun was a bad one but one of the most recognized funny character is a pun. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. All to do with Rocks, where do they live ? In the stone age.

South Park Surprise

Grabbing an show like South Park where they largely use puns but to have the element of surprise. In the episode of Insheepion. They have firemen coming into the dream because they are the only ones that can help to get to different levels. It’s a subtle play on words but the shock at using something so obvious will tickle your funny bone.

Straight, no chase

Of course there is an opposite to this. You can have the pun said to you. With one set up line and no waffle. This style is mainly used in a short skit where the animator and writer no time is short. Shows like Robot Chicken use this humor a lot and it works well to their advantage. In fact it then becomes there style itself and will be used on many occasions during the episodes.

The 7 Genres You should Know for Animation Scriptwriting

There are seven cartoon genres which can cross over to add different elements to the animation you are writing for. It is best to examine the overall structure and tone that is consistent within the show to find out the genre it is. From this you can identify what works within it and help you in your animation scriptwriting.

These are the seven major type of genres in animation.

1. Action

Action means action. The script will have action scenes embedded in, each sequence building up the story to the climax of more action.

Unfortunately you can’t stop the story line for gags. The only place that you will be able to get the humor in is within the dialogue. You must stay within the plot of action throwing obstacles are your character.

  • Dragonball Z and Batman are fine examples.

2. Comedy- Action

Comedy Action mixes the action with witty dialogue and gag humor. A gag is simply a quip. You know those remarks that get laughs.

Larry: Sort of like what I do most the time.

Yes but it’s funny. In this genre you ca have gags and other types of humor.

  • They usually appeal to the younger audiences and so the humor must play to the age which is usually around six to ten year olds.

3. Character

Character cartoons are those where the main story plot is based all around  the character. The themes of the story comes from characters and their relationships making it an emotional storyline.

The audience is then intrigued and wants to watch what how the character and story unfold. This cartoon genre will have some sort of moral story or lesson within the plot.

  • This genre applies mostly to the six and under audience and also apply to the girls rather than the boys. Rugrats and The Little Mermaid fit this.

4. Fantasy

Here the characters daydream or fantasize most of the time. These imaginative sequences are shown to the audience. The rely a lot on the element of fantasy to help tell the story. They tend again to relate to the younger audiences.

  • This genre includes shows such as Doug and Pepper Ann

5. Gags

Animated Comedy thrives in this genre. It’s all about gags, gags and topper gags. Nearly every cartoon made by Warner Bros incorporates this genre style. Ir relies on the visual impact and timing.

  • It captures the six to twelve range but is appreciated by any age. Looney Toons and Courage the Cowardly Dog portray the stylistic writing.

6. Sitcom

These shows are half an hour long which play close to live action prime time series and are structured in the same way. The stories derive from real life situations or experiences that a family might go through.

  • Family Guy, The Simpsons are the biggest force in the field of animated comedy sitcom.

7. Spoof

Well known characters are made fun off in a good natured way. A famous person or character is parodied such as Inspector Gadget spoofs Don Adam’s detective character. Johnny Bravo is Elvis and Mighty Mouse pokes fun at super heroes. The key to the humor here is for the characters to be funny versions of their well known counterparts.

What genre suits.

When writing, it’s best to choose a style that suits your own style. If gags are your speciality then produce a script that focuses on that. Which will show your talents as a writer. Combining the two may show some interesting results. What ever you choose enjoy it and study the shows in the genre to see what works.

Best List of Animation Scripts ever.

Ed: We’ve compiled a list of Scripts for Animation ranging from TV Series to Feature Length.
Larry: Reading through will help you by seeing what works.

By: Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Host Site: The Daily Script

By: Dalton Reymond, Morton Grant & Maurice Rapf
Host Site: The Daily Script

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