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  • Writer's pictureLee Hamilton

10 tips to craft a winning 1hr TV Pilot



But for the short version...


1. Deliver the Promise of the Premise - Fast: Consider cutting back on the setup needed

to get your story going.


2. Hook: Cold opens or teasers are effective ways to jump straight into the most compelling part of a story, hooking the viewers straight away.

3. Master Structure: Yes, the three-act structure can still very much apply to tv writing, but using 5-act (and now 6-act) structures are expected.

4. Craft Unique/Relatable Characters: Even if you’ve got a brilliant high-concept idea, don’t scrimp on the character design.


5. Understand Arcs: Unlike in a feature, characters aren’t expected to have conclusive arcs during the pilot episode.


6. Include Subplots: There’s no set amount, but including an A-Story, B-Story, and C-Story is the traditional method that doesn’t over complicate things.

7. World-Build: The great thing about TV is that there’s much more time to develop and explore the story world that you’ve created.


8. Less is More: We don’t need to meet every single character, see every location, begin every subplot, or include every twist in the pilot. Stick to only giving the essentials.


9. Have an original concept: A great idea that has ‘wow’ factor can render average writing forgivable. It’s all about sparking interest and intrigue in the reader.


10. Write with the audience in mind: This doesn’t just apply to the people potentially watching your show; think about who is going to be reading the script too.



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