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What Writing a TV Pilot Has Shown Me

 

love-letter_f17pxwvuMost of you know I’m working on my first TV pilot.  I’ve been an author of novels and short stories for longer than I can remember but this new experience has shown (and is teaching) me new things about the writing process. I thought I’d share these five insights with you here…

Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

You might love writing Sci-Fi, mysteries, romances or whatever, but try something new, try a different genre at some point in your career. You don’t even have to do it with publication in mind but straying outside your comfort zone will make you a stronger writer.  I’m so used to writing a certain way that without me knowing plots might not be as original as they could be or perhaps one character starts to sound like another. Being in unfamiliar territory and having to think about each word makes your writing stronger.

Giving Yourself a Deadline

Something I tell all my students is you have to give yourself a deadline for finishing a story or it will never get written. You’d think I’d follow my own advice but no. I’ve had the rough draft of the TV pilot sitting in a notebook for six months. It wasn’t until I saw the screenwriting contest and the deadline that I found the incentive to begin working on it again.

Go Back To Your Old Ways

Speaking of the notebook… When I first started writing and the fact I hated typing because I was the world’s worst typist, I only wrote stories in longhand in a notebook. Yes, I had to finally muster up the motivation to type them up to send them out but I couldn’t write a first draft straight into the word processor (word processor! Yep, that’s how long I’ve been writing). It took me years to get comfortable with typing my stories straight onto a screen. I’ve found that technique worked with my TV pilot because I’m in new territory once again and as I always say if it worked once, it will probably work again.

Get to Know Your Characters

I’ll be honest with you. I’m sort of stalled on the second draft of the TV pilot but now I know why. I didn’t at first but then I had the a-ha moment. When I’m writing novels, I can go deep into the character’s head, heart and soul. I know what makes him or her tick because I’m privy to their inner thoughts. I once knew that one of my characters took ballroom dancing lessons and kept it a secret. I figured out my main character in the TV pilot wasn’t revealing very much to me because I hadn’t bothered to delve into his head this deeply because most of what he reveals is in (yes, this is a script) dialogue. I’ve learned a valuable lesson here. No matter what type of fiction you’re working on you need to know your character backwards, forwards, and upside down. I’m now in the process of using some of my character building exercises to delve deep into the character’s mind and I’m guessing this second draft will be easier to write.

How about you? Have you tried to stray outside your writing comfort zone? If so, what did you discover?

Writing How Tos Writing Tips

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. I will be writing my first TV pilot as well. Recently, an idea came to me that I found to be great for the TV medium. I’m hoping to follow your example and I’m going to look to this post for inspiration…so thank you.

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