Tips for Writing a Twilight Zone episode

Here are some tips for writing a Twilight Zone episode. Keep in mind that some of the indirectness may be related to how TV audiences at the time were family-oriented and mainstream.

Story Conventions: 

  • Things appear normal on the outside except to the main character.
  • If there is violence, it is more likely to be suggested than actually shown.
  • Something seems mysterious to the main character until the end
  • There is a narrator who will introduce and close the show with commentary.
  • Usually there is a tragic or horrifying end.
  • Characters often doubt their own reality
  • Not usually a huge or long fight or struggle.
  • Using live actors rather than animation gives the whole series a realistic atmosphere

Here are some sample plot elements which you might find:

  • something disappears or appears
  • changing shape
  • someone or something gains a magical power
  • things becoming alive
  • some kind of illusion masks the truth
  • trapped
  • Something harmless becomes harmful
  • Breaking the rules causes unexpected harm
  • someone has some secret identity
  • something has a curse
  • a bunch of coincidences suggest a pattern
  • a secret enemy has taken charge
  • Tomato Surprise ( or Tomato in the Mirror)

See also these two articles about how to write a Twilight Zone episode and Plot Twists you find in every Twilight Zone episode.

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