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Tips on Writing TROBO Scripts

Use these recommendations to have a strong submission:

  • DOs:
    • Use a film or comic book format.  Sorry, we can’t take short stories written in a novel style.  We need a script.  Screenwriting software, such as Final Draft and Celtx, will produce the desired format.  Here are some templates you can optionally use to get started:
    • Review scripts from previous winners:
      • How Honey Is Made In this film script example each scene is a storybook page. Comic book writers can specify page numbers (with one panel per page).
      • What is Lightning? In production, coming out this summer.
      • How Do Cars Work? this is the latest script, and is a good example of a working script.
    • Target 2-5 year olds.  Have a look at many popular children’s board books today to get a feel for the level of content.
    • Write 9-12 pages.
    • Target boys AND girls.  Any story that only appeals to one gender will not work.
    • Use "Jaime" for the child name, to help you keep the story targeted to both genders.
    • Take TROBO and one child character on a journey through the story topic.
    • Be visually creative. TROBOs have creative license to bend the rules.
      • list any fun costume ideas. Can TROBO turn Jaime into something cool like a bee?
      • list any fun places TROBO can go to explore the topic like flying into the sky in a hot air balloon
      • list any fun equipment TROBO can use, like anvils?
      • puzzles must be simple, but fun. Think of making characters out of elements in the puzzle.
    • Be compelling. Find the fun for a child. For example, a third character can help. Helping them solve a problem is engaging.
    • Try to be nontraditional in telling a story. The more interesting an engaging a basic concept is, the more competitive it will be.
  • DON'Ts:
    • Don't ask the child questions and then assume they successfully got it right. Yes this format is followed by Dora the Explorer and Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but we don't use it with TROBO. The only time TROBO asks a question is to transition to explaining the story problem. In the Honey story, it is "Jaime, do you know how honey is made?", and in the lightning story, it is, "Jaime, do you know how lighting is made?".
    • Don't assume the child has an emotional relationship with the content. ie, don't assume they are scared of lightning and therefore your story problem is to make them feel comfortable with it.
    • YOUR STORY PROBLEM MUST BE SOLVABLE WITH KNOWLEDGE GAINED BY WHAT TROBO TEACHES. If you don't have a problem to solve, the story won't be engaging.
    • Stay focused on how you can teach the topic simply in a few pages. Try to stay away from metaphors for teaching. For example, don't use balloon static electricity to teach lightning. Learn how lightning is formed and integrate that into your story.
    • Don't have TROBO or other characters engage in long dialogue back and forth. Our format is that TROBO:
      • speaks all the dialog. 3 or 4 lines per page, max.
      • speaks for any tertiary character. "Bucky is nervous, because..."
      • doesn't tell jokes. TROBO is fun and educational, but not witty.