From an industry and craft perspective, despite the many manuals and ‘how to’ guides, feature film paradigms (notably three- to five-act structures) and character arc frameworks (e.g., the hero’s journey) dominate the discussions of character development in serial TV drama. The work of structure-based industry writers, notably Christopher Booker, Christopher Vogler, Linda Aronson and Craig Batty, focuses on feature films and this article will connect their influential frameworks and analyses with the practice of serial TV drama screenwriting. While there are several key screenwriting manuals specifically for writing television, particularly Pamela Douglas’s Writing the TV Drama Series (2018) and John Yorke’s Into the Woods (2014), these texts only briefly investigate long-form character development, instead focusing on single episodes. Therefore, expanding these ideas and examining the practice of long-form serial drama screenwriting across multiple episodes and seasons is necessary. What this article will arrive at is a new framework for criticism and creative practice: character composition.


serial storytelling, television drama, character arc, screenwriting, creative practice

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