TV Writing I — Syllabus

Introduction to TV Writing: Writing samples—specs for existing shows, original work. Elements of a TV series—type, premise, episodes (self-contained/serialized, storylines, signatures), characters, setting, tone, secret theme. How to choose a show to spec. Studying shows.

Episode Ideas: Getting storyline ideas. Finding ideas inside and outside the show. Vertical exploration of regular characters. Interaction of multiple storylines. Using the expected and unexpected.

Mapping It Out: Finding the storyline beats. Plot basics. Prose outlines. Segments. Step outlines. Tips for outlining.

Character: Understanding the regular characters. Desire—super objective, episode objective. Strengths/flaws. Personality. Relationships.

Format/Description: Examining the technical format for TV scripts. How to handle description.

Scene: Scene defined. Scene guidelines—importance, desire, structure, character. Scenes analyzed—short, medium, long.

Dialogue: Naturalistic dialogue. The art of compression. Stylized dialogue. Lingo. Character through dialogue. Subtext. Stage directions.

Drama/Comedy: Drama—character complexity, emotion, suspense, action. Comedy—character folly, extreme situations, verbal wit, physical humor. Comedy/Drama—finding the right balance.

The Process: The real-world process of writing TV shows. Your process-beating it out, breaking story, scenes, transitions, length, finishing touches. Making sure a script is ready.

The Business: Building a collection of samples. Getting in the door-connections, non-writing jobs in the business, agents/managers, production companies. Who to contact. Query letter. Response. Meetings. Ways to maximize your chances.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.