Writing a Pitch for a TV Show
Writing a pitch for a TV show can be a daunting task for many writers who may be more comfortable creating characters than they are at compressing their creations into a succinct story to present to potential buyers. A large number of TV script writers underestimate the importance of selling or pitching their story. Writing the pitch is often the first step for many successful screenwriters.
Begin your pitch with a logline. Whatever type of TV show you have created or plan to create, the pitch should include a logline. The logline is a one sentence description of your concept, which fully explains what your show is all about. If you’ve got a clear idea of what you have written, you’ll be able to write the logline. It is recommended that you write the logline before you even begin writing your TV show script because it will help you to focus on the core of your characters instead of wandering off into directions that fail to serve the overall story or worse yet, which are inconsistent with your characters emotions, motives, and drives.
A good logline will instantly tell people what you are trying to or have already made; the order varies depending upon your stage in the writing process. In the artistic, yet competitive business of TV show writing, the first impression may very well be the difference between going back to a traditional job versus earning enough money to work on more episodes for that television series.
Here are a few examples of loglines to help you begin writing a pitch for a TV show:
Amazing Race: “Couples from around the world race around the world to compete for a million dollars.”
The Simpsons: “The humorous misadventures of a dysfunctional yet lovable suburban family.”
Nikita: “A secret agent goes rogue from her evil trainers, trying to stop them from wreaking havoc around the world.”
If you’re having trouble writing a pitch for a TV show, the logline might also help you. Write a few variations of the logline until you think you’ve captured the show’s essence. The logline forces you to think deep and hard about what your show is really all about. If you can’t think of a good logline, it’s a good indication that you should back away from writing a pitch for a TV show and go back to thinking about the concept of the show. Once you know what you want to write, the logline will come more naturally.
After the logline, one way of proceeding is to write a one page summary of the show, and then the more detailed TV show treatment, and then finally the rough draft script… then another draft… and usually a few more before it truly stands out from the sea of mediocrity. The film treatment is an outline in paragraph form, which uses present tense, and is much shorter than the completed script, but longer than the 1 page summary. Think of it as a quick-start guide to your TV show to show potential producers who may commission you to write the script based on the strength of the treatment. Whether you pitch the treatment to potential buyers before writing the script, it can be beneficial to get feedback about the treatment before writing the rough draft script. In fact, it can be a good idea to get feedback on the preceding 1 page summary.
Once you’ve got at least your logline and a least a summary and ideally a treatment, you should be able to pitch and hopefully, have a shot at being hired to write the TV script and make your own TV show. But without a track record of previous success or connections, producers and film makers will prefer to buy an already solid and completed script. That’s not to say they won’t go ahead and send it through another round of rewriting. It’s a collaborative process and it ebbs and flows all the way to the final film edit.