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Writing the Pilot: Creating the Series (Volume 2)

$11.99 (as of 12.30.2017, 12:27 am) $11.86

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When I finished Writing the Pilot a few years back, I figured I’d managed to cram everything I had to say on the subject in that little 90-page package. But that was 2011, and in the years that have passed, a lot has changed about the television business. And when I say “a lot,” I mean everything. The way series are bought. The way series are conceived. The way stories are told. The way series are consumed. The kinds of stories that can be told. The limitations on content at every level. The limitations on form at every level. And maybe most important of all: The restriction on who is allowed to sell a series. What’s far more confusing about the future is that there are as many changes in the business models for “broadcasters” out there, and no one knows which ones will prevail. And the changes in the delivery model are actually affecting the way our viewers watch our shows – and that in turn is affecting the shows that are being bought and produced. It turns out that we approach a series differently if we’re going to binge an entire season in three days instead of taking it week by week. And while you might leap to the conclusion that this only applies to shows produced for Netflix, that’s actually not true – the market for syndicated reruns on independent and cable channels is mostly dead, and the afterlife for almost every drama currently produced will be on a streaming service. So in those cases you are writing for two completely different audiences. And this is only the beginning of the forces that are changing the ways stories are told on television these days. Who could have guessed, for example, that a change in the way networks count their viewers would result in a huge acceleration in the pace of storytelling? Or that an overabundance of outlets would lead to a complete liberalization of the kinds of stories that would be allowed to serve as foundation for a series? TV drama storytelling has been changing constantly since the turn of the millennium, but the pace of that change seems to accelerate with every passing television season – except that there really isn’t any such thing as a television season anymore. Series are getting bigger and faster – and also slower and smaller. A hit show from even five years ago can look hopelessly dated in this new world. And the only thing that’s certain is that everything is going to keep changing. Well – almost everything. Because the one constant in this new television world is the need for great writing. Strong concepts, rich characters, intriguing plots. And more even than great writing: a voice. There’s a desperate hunger out there for a fresh, original vision, something that can cut through the clutter of all those hundreds of other shows out there. But in order for that voice to be yours, you’ve got to understand how TV writing has changed – and what it may be changing to. That’s why I’ve written this book. I believe that almost all of what I said in Writing the Pilot still applies, but right now it feels there’s a lot to talk about that wasn’t even a fantasy back in 2011. This book is about addressing the changes that have overtaken the TV business – and more importantly, have overtaken TV storytelling. I’m going to be talking about all the changes I listed above, and how they may – how they must – affect your pilot. In many ways, this is the greatest time in the history of our art form to be a TV writer. There are no limits to the stories you can tell or the ways you can tell them. But beneath what appears to be a market in chaos, there are still rules that guide our storytelling – and you can’t get into the game before you master them.

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