Next week marks the beginning of the five week process of starting my TV series, Saving Camelot. By the end of these five weeks I will not only have a TV pilot finished, but also the first episode. This includes not just the scripts, but also all the character information as well (descriptions/costumes). I’m so excited to finally embark on this journey. I had the idea for this show about a year ago, and I only ever wrote down a few ideas for the first few episodes. Now, with this push, I have the entire series mapped out, and I actually get to start writing it!
Since I switched my major to Film, Television, and Media Arts, my junior year, my dream has been to become a scriptwriter. I love coming up with my own ideas and watching them come to life. If you’d ask my parents what they thought I’d become when I was younger, it would probably be along the lines of scriptwriter/ content creator (something creative). I was also writing and coming up with stories that my neighbors and I would put on for our parents. I was a young Orson Welles, minus being a famous director by age 25 (I still have two years to catch him though).
There’s a lot I’m going to have to learn throughout this process, so there’s going to be a lot of trial and error. I’ve never written a TV script, so a lot of the research in the first week will be focused on that. It’s a lot different than writing a feature-length film. What’s lucky for me is my dialogue-writing skills have improved a lot over the years and according to MasterClass, TV scripts are dialogue-driven (I’ll have to get out of the house more and listen in on strangers’ conversations. You know what they say, the best dialogue you find is from what you hear on the streets). The big thing I’m going to have to get used to is that TV scripts follow a completely different narrative structure. A feature-length script has a beginning, middle, and end (easy enough), but a TV script has five different acts
- Act 1: Introduce your characters and present the problem.
- Act 2: Escalate the problem
- Act 3: Have the worst-case scenario happen
- Act 4: Begin the ticking clock
- Act 5: Have the characters reach their moment of victory.
Let’s not forget about the multiple storylines:
- Storyline A: The A storyline involves your main character and is the core of your show.
- Storyline B: The B storyline is secondary and helps the narrative keep moving forward.
- Storyline C: The c storyline, sometimes referred to as “the runner,” is the smallest storyline and holds the least weight.
Doesn’t seem too hard right?
The scary thing is that that’s just for a TV script, a TV pilot is different than just a regular ol’ script. A TV pilot is how you sell your script, you need to convey everything that’s conveyed in a 90+ page feature-length script in 20-30 pages.
“When you write a TV pilot or a movie, you are in effect creating a story universe. Even if that universe is a common American suburb, you need to immerse yourself in lives its characters and the specifics of that sub-culture because in that way, you reveal the unique, compelling personality of that place and its people, transforming what appears to be typical into something distinctive and entertaining.” (Myers).
It’s almost like summarizing an article you just read. The article could be ten pages, but when you summarize it, you need to explain all the important details but in one page. In my case, it’s trying to convey a multiple season story in one 20-30 page script.
The first thing I’m going to have to do is expand the idea I have for the whole series. I have the rough outline of what’s happening from beginning to end, but the middle is a little jumbled and seemed very quick to me when I was writing it. The beginning is set-in-stone and I know exactly what I want to happen and how I want to convey it, but starting there for the pilot isn’t the best idea. I think I want to start in the middle of the story where characters are already established, which then, poses the problem, how do I establish my already established characters. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination, but I think I can do it. This is something I’ve wanted to take on for the last year, so I’m pretty passionate about it. If you have any suggestions on what could help me write a TV pilot please let me know! I’m open to all suggestions!