This week has been a heavy week, as I am developing two new shows. What’s interesting for me is that on one project I am at the beginning, creating a first draft of a pilot, and on the second project, we’re refining the pilot and creating a bible for presentation. Working on these two projects, has caused me to reflect on the key ingredients for success. Here are a few tips that apply whether or not you are beginning or completing a project. They also apply if you were writing a feature-length film screenplay.
1. Have a concept that is easily understandable. One way to check yourself is to see what existing two TV shows or movies your story relates to.
2. Create relatable characters. Six to seven main characters is a good rule of thumb.
3. Make sure that you have at least one villain or obstacle that runs through the entire series-and also one per episode.
4. Write a rough pilot that is an origin story to get to know your characters. Then write the second episode that will be typical of how each week or each episode will play. If you’re applying this to writing a feature-length screenplay, write a rough draft and then expand.
5. Last but not least, remember that just when you think your episode is written, that is the critical moment when you need to dig deeper and make sure that there’s enough conflict to hold your viewer.
The exercise I often do to keep myself sharp is to outline an episode of a TV show that I love using The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting and the 12 steps of the Mythic Journey Map in How To Write A Screenplay in 10 Weeks. I do the same thing when I am working on a new screenplay for film.
Remember, if writing was easy, everyone would be doing it. Give yourself an “A” for effort and then get back to work!
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz