Introduction to Television Writing: The Spec Script


The fundamental skill of television writers is the ability to craft entertaining and compelling stories for characters, worlds, and situations created by others. Though dozens of writers may work on a show over the course of its run, the “voice” of the show is unified and singular. A mandatory element of any aspiring TV writer’s portfolio is writing a “spec script” for an existing TV show. Developing, pitching, writing, and rewriting stories hundreds of times extremely quickly, in collaboration, and on tight deadlines is what TV writers on staff do every day, fitting each episode seamlessly into the series as a whole in tone, concept, and execution. This workshop will introduce students to these skills by taking them, step-by-step, through writing their own spec (sample) script for an ongoing television dramatic series. The course will take students from premise lines, through the outline/beat sheet, to writing a complete draft of a full one-hour teleplay for a currently airing show (no original pilots). In conference, students may wish to develop another spec script, begin to develop characters and a series “bible” for an original show, or work on previously developed material. Prospective students should be familiar with a significant number of contemporary, on-air television shows and will have to screen entire runs of four selected, currently high-rated shows to be advised during the course interview.