So, you want to win the Nickelodeon Writing Program?
I don’t blame you. The Nickelodeon Writing Program is a global training designed to recruit, advance, and assign talented writers to productions by Nickelodeon.
Graduates of the program have written their own shows and written for popular Nickelodeon programs. But you probably already know all of those facts.
You want to know how to win.
The short version is that you win the Nickelodeon Writing Program by following the four application steps: Pick a track, prepare scripts, select a show, and complete your submission using the Coverfly online portal.
However, there are important details that can make or break your success, and exclusive insider “hacks” to help you dominate your competition.
Let’s dive into the winning strategies!
How Do You Get Into the Nickelodeon Writing Program?
To win, you first must be eligible and know the framework for applying to the program. Although these are the fundamentals, they require full understanding.
Eligibility comes down to age. You must be 18 years or older at the time of your application.
Many people that meet the age requirement overlook the simple application steps. Not you, though, because you want to win.
And winners do what losers refuse to do. Writers who win the Nickelodeon Writing Program Fellowship master the basics, follow the rules, and complete the steps.
There are four basic steps to getting into the writing program.
- Pick a submission track
- Prepare two scripts
- Select a show for your spec script
- Apply online via Coverfly
You can choose from two tracks: the general track or the preschool track. The preschool track is focused on writing for a preschool age range.
For either track, you must prepare both a spec script and also an original pilot script. Your spec script must be written for a show on the accepted show list.
Finally, you complete your submission package and apply through the provided online portal.
Here’s an interview with the Director of the Nickelodeon Writing Program for some additional insight into the process.
7 Easy Ways To Win
Now that you know the basic steps that get your foot in the door, it’s time to cover the seven ways to crush your competition. Not all of the rules sound sexy, but they all help you win.
1. Scrupulously follow all the rules
The most important way to win against the majority of other submissions is to follow every detail of every rule. Most people will slip up and get eliminated.
They will eliminate themselves by not precisely following the rules.
I highly encourage you to study and restudy the rules. Read the submission guidelines and spec script formatting guidelines over and over again. Read them until your eyes hurt.
You’ll think that you don’t need to or that you’ve studied the rules enough. Study them again anyway.
Here are a few specific rules to master:
- Submission period: July 1,[Current Year] to 11:59 August 1 PST.
- Submit a completed and signed submission release form for both your spec script and your original script.
- Submit a completed and signed schedule A form for both your spec script and your original script.
- Follow all script formatting rules from Nickelodeon.
2. Join the r/Screenwritting Reddit
Join and engage with other writers on the r/Screenwritting Reddit. You can swap scripts for feedback, ask questions, and find encouragement for your efforts.
You’ll learn important tips that you really can’t get anywhere else because users update them constantly.
3. Focus on the O.C.V
When preparing your scripts, focus on originality, craft, and voice. These elements will leapfrog you ahead of others who write the same ideas in the same boring way.
Cookie-cutter scripts for stale stories.
Stand out by twisting familiar tropes into original directions. Demonstrate your range of craft in description, dialogue, and characterization.
Speak with a clear and vivid voice. Don’t water down your personality, highlight it.
4. Reverse-engineer the show you spec
One you choose a show for your spec script off the approved list, study the heck out of it. Watch the entire series, then watch it again. Reverse-engineer the plot, characters, dialogue, etc.
Write down patterns. Keep notes on personality, speech, and behavioral tics for the main characters.
Don’t repeat plots or subplots. Come up with something original that is consistent with the overall storyline. Put a fresh twist on a familiar show. Explore new territory.
This is not the place nor the time to hold back.
5. Study winning scripts
If you scour the internet, you can find winning scripts to study. To save you some time, check out these winning scripts.
The Reddit user who created this Dropbox of scripts says these are a few of the available scripts:
• Short Film script – Won a few contents and a student Emmy.
• Spec “That 70’s Show” – Won the Nickelodeon Fellowship.
• Spec “CSI” – Won Fox New Writer’s Award and Runner up WB Writer’s Workshop.
• Spec “Avatar, Last Airbender” – Written while a Nickelodeon Fellow on that show.
• Spec “Scrubs” – Runner up ABC/Disney Fellowship
6. Crush the interviews
Even after your scripts get accepted, you still need to impress Nickelodeon executives, writers, and other interviewers to get chosen for the Fellowship.
According to online accounts, these will be speed interviews, approximately 10 or 11 of them over a 3-day period. Each interview will last about 10 minutes.
Some of the interviews will be one-on-one. Some will include groups of interviewers scoring you on various categories.
That means selling yourself.
Prepare short, punchy answers to common interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself (make this the most compelling 2-minute version of your life)
- What is your film experience?
- What are your writing credits?
- What inspired you to write this script?
- What shows do you like to watch?
- Why do you want to be a TV writer?
Practice with others and record yourself so that you can improve your body language, voice tone, and responses. Be prepared to repeat the same stories over and over again to new interviewers.
Prepare just as thoroughly for your interviews as you did for your script submissions.
7. Prepare a second spec script
There are accounts of interviewers asking for additional spec scripts during the Nickelodeon Writing Program application process. Don’t dissapoint.
Be ready with an extra script to share.
This will ultimately make you stand out as a professional writer who is motivated to succeed. Your spec script should be based on a show in the approved list (see the link earlier in this article).
In an ideal world, your second spec script will be drafted, revised, and formatted for instant submission. It’s a nice idea to keep an electronic and hard copy version.
How Long is the Nickelodeon Writing Program?
The length of the program depends on which track you choose in the first step of the application process.
- The general track: This is a 1 year, full-time commitment.
- The kindergarten track: This is a 6 month, full-time commitment.
Note that either commitment is full-time. There is little room for other jobs, schooling, or any other conflicting commitments.
How Much Does the Nickelodeon Writing Program Pay?
I couldn’t find a salary amount listed on an official Nickelodeon website, but anecdotal information I found says it is a salary of $50K (over a year) and possibly $1,000.00 per week.
Suggested Read: How to Become an SNL Writer
In addition to bookmarking this article for future reference, I recommend checking out these resources:
- Video interviews with former Nickelodeon Writing Program Fellowship winners.
- Nickelodeon Writing Program Twitter.
- Nickelodeon Writing Program Facebook.
- Read up on past winners and experts, like Eric Bravo.
The seven tips in this post can help you win the Nickelodeon Writing Program. Talent, execution of craft, interviewing skills, and creativity can’t be transferred from an article.
You still have to put in the time and effort to master your craft.
However, I hope this article provides a pathway to landing the fellowship and, ultimately, a spot on a Nickelodeon show.
That’s what I call winning.
What to read next:
- How To Become a Writer for Disney [Ultimate Insider Guide]
- How To Start a Blog on Medium: Exclusive 10-Step Freelancer Guide
- How to Become a Writer for SNL (The Insanely Complete Guide)