WRITING A TV SERIES
Design a powerful, engaging concept for a TV drama or sitcom, structure, outline and write a pilot script, prepare a show bible and strategize the promotion.
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“Story Structure Game”!
Writing a TV Series
Over the last couple of decades the common understanding of a TV series as an artistic medium has expanded to include streaming series, web series, social network-based series as well as serial content distributed via Bluray / DVD. We can consider all of it as a “longer-duration serialized storytelling”.
Originally, fiction storytelling for TV served the purpose of selling time for commercials, and therefore, TV series were a sales machine. Storytelling was secondary to selling products via TV. Today, storytelling is more likely to be selling more storytelling – via subscription to streaming services – even though commercials are still very relevant for public television.
From this point of view, this medium in some ways begins to overlap with series of theatrical feature films (such as Marvel Cinematic Universe series, X-Men series, James Bond movies etc.) – especially considering that all these movies are currently available via streaming platforms.
The current significant difference – which begins to erode – is that what we know as “TV series” has a long-established structural and stylistic format, notably different from the structure of feature films. That format evolved from the need to sell TV commercials, and it has two basic variations:
- A 1-hour TV drama;
- A 30-min sitcom.
The 1-hour and 30-min mark in this case implies the duration of a single episode, and the show itself may have anywhere between 7 and 20 episodes per season, and run anywhere from 1 season and more than 30.
In reality, the duration of a 30-minute episode traditionally was closer to 22-26 minutes, and the rest of the airtime was given to commercials. Similarly, an 1-hour episode of a TV drama in reality has usually anywhere between 45 min and 53 minutes of storytelling, and the rest of the hour is given to commercials.
We may see some of these limitations lifted, as streaming services create more and more exclusive content that does not rely on selling the advertising time.
Serialized long-duration content is currently one of the best ways for an emerging writer to build a career, because the demand for new material for serialized shows continues to expand, the streaming services ramp up their operations, and the budgets for high-quality long-duration scripted TV continue to grow, resulting in increasingly higher production values.
These days, it appears to be considerably easier to sell a TV screenplay for a major show than a feature film script. Writing for TV and streaming is currently thought of as the area where “all the money’s at”.
To establish a career as a TV writer, you should become proficient in these two areas:
- Creating original pilots and TV bibles;
- Creating spec scripts for existing, currently running TV series.
This is where Superstar Screenwriters can be helpful to you.
In this course, we will train you toward achieving the following results:
- Brainstorm commercially viable, creatively compelling concepts for original TV shows;
- Create teams of memorable, unique, thematically relevant characters;
- Master multiple variations of story structures for 1-hour drama episodes and 30-min sitcom episodes;
- Define unique strategies for maintaining the audience’s and distribution network interest in your story for many seasons;
- Develop maximum proficiency in writing cliffhangers – the key to keeping the audience attracted to your story;
- Develop a TV pilot screenplay and a show bible;
- Select the best currently running TV shows for writing spec scripts;
- Analyze the formulas of the currently running popular shows, to make your script seamlessly match the formula;
- Write the spec scripts.
The duration of your training is defined by your pace and your needs.
TV writing in this regard is probably one of the courses that may require longer commitment, due to somewhat higher complexity of TV writing tasks compared to feature writing.