Writing Tips

How to Write a Killer TV Show Pilot Script



Paul Lines's image for:
"How to Write a Killer TV Show Pilot Script"
Caption: 
Location: 
Image by: 
©  

The aim of most scriptwriters is to come up with a unique idea that becomes the basis for a long-running TV series. However, to achieve this you will fist need to produc a pilot script that the producers of such a show believes will catch the attention of the viewing audience. Writing a script for a killer TV show pilot is not easy for several reasons. Not least of these is that it will have to be new and innovatives and, therefore, you need to start with the basics.

1) Find innovative ideas and plots. There are very few subjects and ideas that have not been turned into TV scripts. Therefore, it is important that yours needs to show an innovative approach. For example, if you are writing a script for a TV detective series, you need to find a new twist, a format that has not been tried before. This innovation needs to be reflected within the plot and create a gripping story line that flows through the script and indeed the series.

2) Research your subject well. Often scripts fail because the author has not conducted sufficient research into the subject matter. Taking the script for a police/dective series as an example, this has to reflect realism in terms of police procedures and the same is true for any other chosen genre. Therefore, you will need to familiarise yourself with the way that the police force operates and incorporate this within the script actions and storyline. If there are technical inaccuracies it is likely that the pilot script, and therefore the series, will be rejected.

3) Build credible characters. To the viewing audience of a TV drama the characters being portrayed have to be persons that they can relate to. In other words they have to be believable. It is important that your characters come across as real people, with all the physical, emotional and psychological traits that we each possess. This approach will allow the viewer to form an attachment with the character.

4) Know how to write and present a script in an acceptable format. If you have not already taken a course in scriptwriting, then you should consider it. Producers do not like scripts that are not properly presented and in this case are likely to reject it. If you want some examples of scripts then the www.bbc.co.uk is one place to go. On their website they have examples that you can study. They also have templates that you can download and use.

3) Plan the series. If it is a pilot script, then before commencing the pilot you need to have threads that will run through the whole series, and indeed the second or third series if you are fortunate enough to be taken on. Inspector Morse, a series which ran in the UK ran for well over ten series is an example of a series that had such longevity. Part of what made this series and its main character real and popular with the viewers was that often there were references to things that had happened in the personal lives of the characters in previous years. Furthermore, it also reflected the natural frictions that developed between various officers different approaches to policing.

4) Do not be afraid to co-write. Yes, we all want it to be totally our own work, but sometimes it can be easier if you are writing and developing an idea with someone else. Although you will lose half of the scriptwriter's payment as they say half a cake is better than none! Furthermore, one of the benefits of co-writing is the ability to introduce much variety in both the characters, plot and locations.

Finally, if you can get a good agent then do so. He or she will be able to open doors to the world of TV drama that might be impossible for you to get through.

Writing a killer TV show pilot script is not easy but, if you adopt the above suggestions your chance of being successful in this endeavour will improve.

 

More about this author: Paul Lines

ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS