12 Point Guide To Creating A TV Series


Carole Kirschner  gives a step by step guide to creating a TV series.

1) CONCEPT

This is the overall idea of the series. e.g. Lost is about a group of people stranded on an unknown island following a plane crash. After this, explain how you came up with the idea. What was the inspiration behind it? Why does it resonate so well with you? Why do you love it so much it has to be on the screen? Why are you the best person to tell the story?

2) MAIN CHARACTERS

Protagonist – This is the main character who’s actions and decisions drive the season arc. Describe their backstory, drive (motivation), measures of failure and success, goal, obstacles, source of conflict. Find two adjectives to describe your protagonist.

Antagonist –  The bad guy/girl. What do they want? Why do they want to thwart the protagonist?

3) ONGOING CONFLICT

1 – 2 sentences which illustrates the heart of the series. e.g Man Men – Don Draper wants to keep his real identity hidden while building a fake one in the world of advertising in the 1960s.

4) GENRE

In television, the key separators of scripted TV are comedy and drama. However, there are dramadies, procedurals (closed ended, self-contained episodes), serialized (story arcs are ongoing) or a combination.

5) TYPES OF STORIES

Family, thriller, legal, medical, police, sci-fi and soap.

6) STORY ENGINE

Case of the week, unfolding emotional arcs (serialized) or challenge of the week (often seen in comedy).

7) TONE

How is the story told? Is it dark, twisted, brooding, absurdly hyper realistic (elevated)  or realistic? Other tones include playful, serious, earnest, dangerous (heightened thriller). humorous or naturalistic.

8) TIME AND SETTING

Is it contemporary (modern day), period or set in the future? Is it set in a big city, small town or rural?

9) REALITY/ RULES OF THE WORLD

Is it a real world, heightened reality or a unique/ fantasy world?

10) THEMES

Friendship, morality, guilt, obsession, family or cultural evolution?

11) LOGLINE

This is simply a 1 – 2 sentence description of the premise (concept + theme) of your story?

A simple formula for creating a logline is:

Protagonist (adjective) + conflict (verb) + goal (noun).

Adjectives for the protagonist include driven, desperate, brilliant, troubled, Something to describe their emotional state.

Verbs for the conflict should describe the struggle/ obstacle e.g. seeks, transforms, pursues, battles, overcomes.

Nouns for the goal include love, revenge, death, redemption, esteem, peace.

12) TITLE

This should encapsulate the characters, setting and conflict e.g. Two Broke Girls.

scriptfirm final logo colourFor in depth Film & TV script analysis visit Script Firm.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. wvisher says:

    Good stuff, thanks for sharing! Working on several now.

  2. Reblogged this on the play is the thing . . . and commented:
    Great foundational screenwriting tips on creating a TV series from Jim Sarantinos on his blog, Gideon’s Way.

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