Deciding the genre
What sort of a show / series would you like to pitch? Is it a kids’ show, a thriller, a crime show, a sitcom, a reality show, a documentary series, a lifestyle-related show or some other? Deciding that is important because the rest of the concept will be based on this foundation. A good beginning would be to identify current on-air shows on the basis of this categorisation. Can you identify at least one show according to each genre, even adding some more to this list?
The core idea
Your core idea begins with the question “what if”? For example, what if we confine 12 strangers in a home for three months with no access to the outside world? This is where your ideas begin to flow. Think of as many different “what ifs” as you can. Then start the filtering process. See if it is practically possible to do some of them. I read somewhere that “Seinfeld” was actually drawn out of an idea that goes “what if we did a show about nothing”!
Your entire show will hinge on this – how you pitch it to a television producer / channel. The logline or the core of the show needs to be defined very well. It can be one or two sentences and must be bang on in describing the premise of the show – what the show is about and what will be its direction. Obviously, you will have to craft it so well that the USP (the unique selling proposition or what makes your show so different from the others) of your show is right out there. Here’s the logline for “American Idol”: Aspiring singers will compete in a nationwide talent search on live television where they will face the often unfair scrutiny of a panel of judges before voting viewers finally brand one the “American Idol”, receiving a recording contract.
Defining your characters, if fiction, is one of the most crucial aspects of writing a script. Make sure your characters are round and not one-dimensional. Nobody can only be good or only be horrid. There are different shades to each person and there is a way a character changes or grows. The characters will have to make choices and they will have desires and fears.
Once your characters are ready, make a separate sheet for them. Write down their characteristics in a couple of sentences each. Don’t make it physical characteristics unless it is very essential to your storyline.
A 500-word synopsis should be good for pitching a show. Here is where you give details about the story without being vague and yet keeping the excitement intact. This will be taken care of if you do the following:
* Give the setting of the story
* Share the plotline
* Give a sneak peek into the episodes of the show
Write out what you think could be the pilot episode (the first episode on the basis of which you get approvals for the show). In case you want to write a documentary, you could write about what you would like to show in the first episode, the need for this sort of documentary and what it would highlight. But remember that this is very different from the synopsis.
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