STORY WORKSHEET FOR WRITING A TV PILOT
1. Start by defining what your starting dilemma is.
• Will you start with a series dilemma or a pilot dilemma?
• If you start with a series dilemma, it should stem into your pilot dilemma and then into your pilot goal.
2. What is the external goal that stems from your dilemma in the A story?
• By identifying the external goal, all of your other pivotal points in your story will connect back to this goal.
3. Write a log line for your series and your pilot (the A story).
• Use the formula set up of who (create empathy), dilemma, action and goal with a twist of irony.
4. Write what the starting dilemma is for your B story. Write the goal that stems from it.
• Think of a theme that ties your story lines together.
• Think of an arc that ties together, theme, symbolism and message that connects your story lines.
5. Write what your act outs will be.
• Your act outs should be obstacles, escalating obstacles and an “all is lost” moment that all connect back to your goal.
• You can double the impact by having your act outs end on strong obstacles in the A and B story so that it really hits.
6. Write down the actions that the central character in your story takes in pursuit of the goal.
• Try to write at least one action they take per act that leads to the obstacle.
7. Write what the external and internal stakes are for each goal. What is the worst that will happen if the goal is not achieved?
• Make sure that there is an external/internal stakes arc throughout.
• Remind the audience what your character/characters have to lose.
8. End your Act outs with a question. Answer the question at the top of your next arc.
• Think about splitting the moment of tension with your act outs. When you end it with a question, you make your audience want to come back for the answer.
9. Make sure that the external goal in the A story is achieved. We need to see and feel the moment of the achievement in your last act.
10. Set up what your series will be. End your pilot in a way that makes your audience want to return to see what happens next.
• Make sure that the concept of your series is crystal clear.