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TV Script idea (Help!) (1 Viewer)

J

Jer37

For the past 2 years I have been interested in writing a tv drama. Being a huge tv fanatic myself, I thought it would be interesting to take on a script similar to your wacky teen dramas such as The OC, Dawson's Creek, and 90210, etc. However, instead of just showing the fist fights and overdoses, I wanted to show a more sensitive and realistic side to not only growing up, but finding yourself once that stereotypical growing process has ended.

In many of tese shows, writers have delt with the outcasts. However, they deal with them in only extremes. It ends up that the outcasts are the bad guys, the dorks, or just those one or two characters that you are annoyed by because they tag into something deeper than any of the other characters.

What I am looking to do is turn that around and introduce the public to an interesting character that comes from what would be the typical outcast character. In the past, shows have attempted to introduce a second sided character, someone that another lifestyle can relate to. An example of this would be one of the main characters in The OC. In this show, there is a character that comes from a jewish family. And while it isn't a heavy storyline put on the character, he must deal with who he is as well as the enviornment around him (which does lead to the majority of his storylines). In this script I want to put the outcast in an evirnment of non outcasts.

At te same time, I want to hit the issues that not many shows want to look at. I want to explore the idea of questioning sexuality, age gap relationships, marriages not broken up by divorce or drama but bad communication, the fear of rejection before rejection, etc.

However, I am having trouble getting started. I know script form, but I can't lay down that opening scene.

How do I get started?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
sorry to burst a bubble, but first you have to know that in the us, you've virtually no chance of getting a proposal for a new tv series even read, much less considered, unless you're already working in the industry or have close friends in high places...

back to your dilemma...
first and foremost, you must consider the fact that this will be the pilot for the series... so, to sell a series based on it, you have to present the basic concept and main characters right off the bat, then show [or at least hint broadly] in the pilot's plot, where you intend to take them, over a full season of episodes...

now, that opening scene... it has to be a hook, as well as lead into the plot's set-up... i have no clue to what story you're going to be telling, so can't be any more specific than that... if you want more in depth help, just drop me a line and i'll be happy to give you a hand... sounds like it could be a decent series, if you can write compelling characters and good storylines...

however, to get back to what i said above, if you don't have solid gold connections at a network or elsewhere high up in tvland, no one will be able to even open the envelope you send your proposal in... legal departments don't allow it... and you also need to know that a pilot is only one piece of the standard proposal package... you'll also have to write what's called a 'bible' and a at least a half-season's worth of full episodes, plus lay out thumbnail synopses for the rest of the first season's...

love and hugs, maia
[email protected]
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
Don't be intimidated by second hand remarks on TV shows. I don't think anybody in here has any real experience at it. Not even me, really. I have a series in development by a production company, but nobody has bought it yet.

So. One thing you need to do is address this question to forums in which people DO have a clue about teleplay writing. I pasted a list of them at the bottom of this post.
Brody's site is frequented by real pros in addition to newbies. It's well to ask there, and have some respect because you never know who's who for awhile.
It's also important because it has the only contest I know of that is for TV show PROPOSALS, not scripts. THe people's pilot. Go to the site and take a look at some of the past winners to get an idea (from amateurs, don't forget) of what a proposal could look like.

However, you have a more pressing problem. You have advanced, vague ideas about what you want to do, but can't get a scene down. What this suggests is that you need to read more scripts and perhaps do some thinking and reading about story development. If you post on a TV forum, I would suggest you drop all the high level stuff and just inquire about specifics. One of which might be what people recommend for getting of dead center at the beginning.

There is no need to prepare a "Bible" until the thing is in production. In fact, nowdays lots of shows don't even have them.

AND, think about this. If you want to get into TV, consider writing some spec scripts of shows you like. Pick a show that's still on the air if you expect to enter it in contests. For peer review, join zoetrope.com and read scripts in the "Short Scripts" area (for half hour shows) then post there. If you do, join my TV Writing office. THere is some good info in the files.

I don't know if you know this, so don't feel patronized if you do: but TV scripts are a different format from films: and a different "shape". You realize this immediately when you think about watching a two hour film, then think about watching a TV show, where the action stops 4 time for commercial ads, and has a little cliffhanger or dramatic beat each time. It's not a "dramatic pyramid", it's like a series of little whoopdedoos. There can also be a tag or teaser at beginning or end. This is determined by the show itself. If you pilot your own show you do it as you wish.

One more thing, if you send spec scripts to shows trying to get hired, DON'T send a script for the same show. Weird, but that's how they want it. So you send your Dawson's Creek script to the showrunner at OC or whatever.

Forums like tvwriter.com are also, by the way, a good means to keep up on who's still in business, who's looking at scripts, where you can see a sample script of any given show, who you have to have oral sex with to get on as an assistant, etc.

Good luck



http://Tvwritersvault.com This is probably the most extensive TV writing site, with all KINDS of stuff including a scheme for pitching to the industry.

http://www.tvwriter.com/ This is the best known TV writing site. It is an intertwined complex of Larry Brody concerns and includes three of the first contests for TV writing, including The People’s Pilot.

http://www.craftyscreenwriting.com/TVFAQ.html This is another major site for this stuff, with lots of goodies.


http://www.dvshop.ca/dvcafe/writing/tvwriter.html A Canadian site, eh. A LOT of good links, including job and call boards.

http://www.tvwriter.com/resources/bulletin.htm These “bulletins” from Larry Brody’s Tvwriter.com cover a lot of basics on pitching and selling tv shows.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
jer...
i have the other poster on 'ignore' so can't see what he wrote, but can guess he's telling you not to pay any attention to whatever i say, since his habit of making such personal attacks are why i had to put him on 'ignore' [the only person i've ever had to do that with here, in years of being a member!]...

so, to ease your mind, i did do some tv work in the mid-90s [helped develop and shoot a pilot for a hosted series and wrote proposals for several original new series--comedy/sitcom and hour-long dramatic-- of my own, among other things], am a former associate member of ATAS/NATAS, and now mentor lots of aspiring tv writers and do know what i'm talking about... when i don't know something, i'll tell you so and suggest you look elsewhere for answers...

here are some faq's on the basics of writing for tv:

http://www.tvwriter.com/faq/faq.htm#why

...i also have a very good piece from nbc's 'career opportunities' page that is no longer available online, but i'll be glad to send it to you, if you email me 'at home'...

love and hugs, maia
[email protected]
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
Ignore, but devote a post to! I just love it.

You can write a proposal for a TV show, yourself, Jer.

Again, your best bet is going to forums where TV and script writing is the main focus.

Try googling for screenwriting forums...and search yahoo groups.
 
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