Once you’ve decided on which kind of pilot you’re going to write, either the premise or concept pilot, you’ll need to use what I call the “Five W’s” to find the story and flesh it out. The Five W’s, you may remember from grammar school, are “who, what, when, where, and why.” If we use the example of Family Guy, we can look at it this way …
• Who: the story is about Peter.
• What: it’s a family comedy.
• Where: it’s in Quohog.
• When: it’s a contemporary story.
• Why: it’s about a family trying to get by.
What are your Five W’s? Using this technique will give you the clarity you need to begin expanding your premise into a synopsis, which will lead you to the actual writing of your pilot.
I also suggest that you repeat the same exercise for your villain or obstacle and a few of the other characters as well because it will help you define the central conflicts in your story, which again will help you when you get down to the actual writing.
Now, let’s start thinking about building your synopsis.