While I am predominantly focused on writing feature films, I have indeed had experience in TV writing on a show that was in development in the UK… that never got picked up. But during that process, I got to work with incredible people all over the world and wrote an episode of the Victorian-era series. Mine was a whore house hostage takeover. Oh yeah, it was as fun as you imagine. I will forever cherish the lessons I learned writing for television – the first being the pressure of knowing a remote control is right over your shoulder as you write. You must keep them engaged, or CLICK!
Here are some of the resources that helped me craft my episode:
1. Jen Grisanti not only gives amazing advice in her Story Structure column, but also shares her wisdom in lectures and books at The Writers Store. My favorites are Storywise Workbook: How to Write a TV Pilot Script and Storywise Workbook: How to Write a TV Spec Script. Jen has two decades of experience identifying great TV writing. She’s a treasure trove of resources for any writer.
2. Erik Bork wrote and produced HBO’s Band of Brothers. His webinars and articles on ScriptMag are invaluable to TV writers. You can be the best writer in the world, but the only way to sell a TV show is to have a great idea. Erik shows you how to find the one worthy of your time and talent in What Makes a Great TV Idea? Learn What Hollywood Looks for in a TV Idea and Pilot Script.
3. Ellen Sandler was nominated for an Emmy as a Co-Executive Producer of Everybody Loves Raymond. She has created over 20 pilots for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Family, Oxygen and the Disney Channel. Who better to learn from? Ellen has a variety of resources at The Writers Store, but my favorite is The TV Writer’s Workbook: A Creative Approach to Writing TV Scripts. Filled with easy-to-implement exercises and practical wisdom, this ingenious how-to handbook outlines the steps for becoming a professional TV writer, starting with a winning script. Sandler explains the difference between “selling” and “telling,” form and formula, and theme and plot.
Now get at that TV pilot that’s been buzzing inside your head and put it on the page! You’ll never sell it unless you write it.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Editor and Online Community Manager of Script Magazine and a webinar instructor for The Writers Store. She is Co-Founder and moderator of the weekly Twitter screenwriters’ chat, #Scriptchat, and wrote the narrative adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, with its author, Douglas A. Blackmon, former senior national correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. Jeanne also is President of Implicit Productions and consults with writers on how to build and strengthen their online and offline networks as well as face their fears in order to succeed in writing and in personal peace – a screenwriter’s therapist. More information can be found on her blog, ramblings of a recovered insecureaholic. Follow @jeannevb on Twitter.