How to Write a Good TV Pilot

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There are hundreds of TV shows that try to get onto the silver screen. However, only a few of them make it. Now, the one thing that decides the fate of a TV show is the Pilot episode.

The pilot episode is what makes or breaks a TV show. So, naturally, it needs to be quite impressive. If you can’t gain a fair bit of traction with your pilot, your chances of having an entire season are practically zilch. There is very little hope after that.

So, focus on creating a good pilot. Here are a few tips that we came up with to help you out.

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Ideas, Character, and Plot

It all starts with an idea, but, an idea is only effective if it has structure and form. You must be able to put your idea on paper. Keep it short. Focus on the primary aspects of your story; things such as the protagonist’s personality or the circumstances that the characters often find themselves in.

Your characters need to be prioritized when creating the basic structure for the show. Create a bio for each of those characters. The next step is to focus on the direction the story is going to take while keeping the characters in mind.

After that, you have the plot. The plot can be shaped only after the characters have been shaped. Your audience needs to connect with the character. Only then will the plot appear interesting enough. Of course, how interesting it is, also depends on features such as the storyline, drama, conflicts, and objectives.

The next step is to outline your pilot episode. Now, there are a few technical things you need to focus on at this stage. For instance, you need to factor in the runtime for each episode. A typical TV show lasts 24 minutes per episode or around 48 minutes. The former is composed of a teaser and 3 acts while the latter is made up of a teaser and six acts.

Mark the sections where you’re going to have breaks and when you do this, make sure the cuts are focused on leaving the audience guessing. This is the only way an audience will actually wait to see the end of the show.

Dialogue

Once you have the character and plot ready, the next step is to focus on dialogue. Each character’s dialogue must appear like a natural conversation. Take time to visualize how everything happens. After all, TV is a visual media and therefore, you must view it from that perspective.

Rewrite

Once you’re done with all that, make sure you get feedback from critics or even test audiences. See where you can make changes. Rewriting pilot scripts is unavoidable. Very rarely does the first draft work.

So, keep editing till you arrive at a perfect version.

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