The Nickelodeon Writing Program (7 Ways To Win in 2023)

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 for popular Nickelodeon programs.

Here is what you need to know about the Nickelodeon Writing Program:

The Nickelodeon Writing Program is a full-time paid writing fellowship that lasts for up to one year. Apply by following the four application steps: select a track, prepare a spec script and original script, select an approved 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.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Nickelodeon Writing Program.

How Do You Get Into the Nickelodeon Writing Program?

(This post may have afilliate links. Please see my full disclosure)
Woman in glasses writing in notebook by couch - Nickelodeon Writing Program
I created this image on Canva – 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 all the steps.

There are four basic steps to getting into the writing program.

  1. Pick a submission track
  2. Prepare two scripts
  3. Select a show for your spec script
  4. Apply online via Coverfly

You can choose from three tracks:

  • Kids’ Content Track (Your audience is kids ages 6-11)
  • The Preschool Track (Your audience is kids ages 2-6)
  • The Preteen/Young Adult Tract (Your audience is young adults ages 11-17)

For any of these three tracks, you must prepare both a spec script and also an original pilot script. Note that you don’t need to write your spec script or original script submission for the age group you choose.

However, your spec script must be written for a show on the accepted show list (see an example list later in this post).

Finally, you complete your submission package and apply through the provided online portal.

7 Easy Ways To Win The Nickelodeon Writers Program

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 fun, 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 you can’t get anywhere else because users update them constantly.

3) Focus on the O.C.V

When preparing your scripts, focus on the O.C.V. (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 the 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

Once 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 the personality, speech, and behavioral tics of 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 Nickelodeon Writers Program 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 Secret Spec Script

There are accounts of interviewers asking for additional spec scripts during the Nickelodeon Writing Program application process. Don’t disappoint.

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.

Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship Rules

First, of all, you must send both a spec script and an original comedy pilot to be considered for the writing fellowship at Nickelodeon.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • You must base your spec script on a television series from the Accepted Shows List (check the submissions guidelines for an updated list).
  • Submit your draft in a standard script format.
  • Use a black, 12 pt font that is formatted in the Courier style.
  • This is important: Only send your script. Don’t upload a cover letter to go along with your script.

You’ll also need to include certain information in the header/footer of your spec script:

  • Show name/title (Center this information in the header)
  • Episode name/title (Center this information in the footer)
  • The Filename (The only thing you put in the filename is the show title and episode title)

You can add this information to the first page or all pages.

Finally, don’t put your name anywhere on the file or script (including the file name). If you do, your submission will not be accepted or reviewed.

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.

That’s a pretty amazing Nickelodeon Writing Program salary.

Nickelodeon Writing Program Accepted Shows (2022)

The list of accepted shows for the Nickelodeon Writers Program is updated each year.

Here is the official list of accepted shows for the Nickelodeon Writers Program in 2022:

  • Abbott Elementary
  • Awkwafina is Nora From Queens
  • B Positive
  • Big Mouth
  • Bob Hearts Abishola
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Call Me Kat
  • Chad
  • Close Enough
  • Dollface
  • Duncanville
  • Ghosts
  • Girls5eva
  • Grown-ish
  • Harley Quinn
  • Home Economics
  • How I Met Your Father
  • Inside Job
  • Kenan
  • Mr. Mayor
  • Mythic Quest
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Our Flag Means Death
  • Raven’s Home
  • Rick and Morty
  • Rutherford Falls
  • Saved by the Bell (2020)
  • Sex Lives of College Girls
  • Solar Opposites
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks
  • Tacoma FD
  • The Conners
  • The Great North
  • The Last O.G.
  • The Neighborhood
  • The Other Two
  • The Wonder Years (2021)
  • We Are Lady Parts
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Woke
  • Young Rock
  • Young Sheldon

Resources for Winning the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship

In addition to bookmarking this article for future reference, I recommend checking out these resources:

Nickelodeon recommends that you read the following books to increase your chances of winning:

Recommended Books for the Nickelodeon Writing FellowshipBook Links
Change Your Story Change Your LifeCheck the current price
Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the BoxCheck the current price
Created By…Inside the Minds of TV’s Top Show CreatorsCheck the current price
Creating Unforgettable CharactersCheck the current price
Inside the RoomCheck the current price
Making a Good Script GreatCheck the current price
Small Screen, Big PictureCheck the current price
StoryCheck the current price
Successful Sitcom WritingCheck the current price
Chart of recommended books for the Nick Writers Program

Before you go, check out this great video about the Nickelodeon Writers Program:

YouTube Video by DePaul Visiting Artists Series – Nickelodeon Fellowship Program

Final Thoughts

The seven tips in this post can help you win the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship.

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.

Related posts: