DIY TV WRITING: THE TEMPLATE

Below is a TV show template I created based off of Three Act Structure, Michael Hauge’s Five Key Turning Points , The Eight Sequence Structure, the Hero’s Journey and the Heroine’s Journey. Incorporating Teaser, Cliffhanger and or Denouement specifically for Television purposes. Best way to start writing your pilot!

Enjoy! ❤

TIP: Use this structure as a worksheet, fill in each line with brainstorming ideas and use it as a cheat sheet for your pilot episode!

TEASER [~3-6 pages]

Inciting Incident

ACT I  [~13ish pages]

*SEQUENCE 1*
The Setup, The Status Quo
Heroine’s Journey: Illusion of the perfect world
Hero’s Journey: Ordinary world, Call to Action/Adventure

THE OPPROTUNITY [Turning Point #1] ~10-13%

*SEQUENCE 2*
New Situation
Predicament
Lock-In
Heroine’s Journey: Shattering of Illusion, Realization or Betrayal
Hero’s Journey: Refusal of the Call, Meeting the Mentor

CHANGE OF PLANS [Turning Point #2] ~%25

ACT II [~24 pages]

*SEQUENCE 3*
Progress
1st obstacle/Rising Stakes
Heroine’s Journey: Awakening & Preparing for Journey
Hero’s Journey: Crossing the Threshold
*SEQUENCE 4*
1st culmination
Midpoint
Heroine’s Journey: Descent
Hero’s Journey: Tests, Allies, & Enemies

POINT OF NO RETURN [Turning Point #3] ~50%

*SEQUENCE 5*
Complications/Rising Action
Subplot
Heroine’s Journey: Eye of the storm
Hero’s Journey: Approach
*SEQUENCE 6*
Higher Stakes
Main Culmination
Heroine’s Journey: Death- All is lost
Hero’s Journey: Ordeal, Death & Resurrection

MAJOR SETBACK [Turning Point #4] ~75%

ACT III [~13 pages]

*SEQUENCE 7*
Final Push
New Tension and or Twist (Monkey Wrench)
Heroine’s Journey: Support & Rebirth
Hero’s Journey: Reward, Seizing the Sword

CLIMAX [Turning Point #5]   ~? 85-99%

*SEQUENCE 8*
Aftermath
Resolution
Heroine’s Journey: Rebirth & Return to Perfect World
Hero’s Journey: The Road Back; Resurrection; Return w/ the Elixir

{DENOUEMENT/CLIFFHANGER}

Standard operating procedure 1 PAGE = Aprox 1 MINUTE filming ( this isn’t strictly true, but its a good frame of reference. Some genres, like Sci-Fi, have more description in the script that doesn’t add to film time, but in general these large descriptions should be avoided).
1 Hour serialized drama averages about 58 mins. With commercial breaks averages around 45 mins.

Nothing is set in stone of course, but it’s a good place to start!

Horror ( Screen) Writing Excercises & Prompts

So, I’m finally getting into horror. And for my horror buff friends: yes, you were right, I was a liar all along.

It took me some time to get here, and I had to convince myself I was writing “thriller” or “psycological thriller” for a while before I was able to come out of the boogey man’s closet and just admit: I fucking love scary shit. It just happens to be my “own brand” of scary shit. But at the end of the day, it is horror – a story that is designed to spook.

I personally love the slow, subtle, build up, of utter, absolute, ambiguous, oh my freaking god, what the eff is that, am I going crazy, kind of terror that delves not only into the outer world of monsters and mayhem, but also looks at what lurks within.

In the midst of all this, I decided to migrate my musing into Celtx and write in screenplay format. I think visually, I write my novels visually, and maybe my visuals are more important than my prose. Especially when we’re talking about haunted forests and The Thing with Two Faces.

And I sat down, looked at all the white, empty space, and basically had no where to go. I had a setting, which was seriously freaking me out, since I was staring at it out my back window, but where were the characters?

I googled “Horror screenwriting prompts” and surprise, I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I took a moment and attacked it in an epeological way: if I was a horror screenwriting professor, what kind of assignment would I give my students?

 

Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #1

1. think of the most frightening setting possible. (Remember, your scary shit needs to scare you first, otherwise it wont stick to the page, or the screen.)

2. write down three things that are not usually associated with horror or spook, it can be objects like a tangerine, or a bottle of beer, or it could ideas, like love, honor, or courage, it could be people, like a newspaper delivery boy, or the milkman. Maybe try a combo of all three?

3. Now write a scene that begins in your setting and incorporate at least two of the three things, but here’s the kicker: make them scary or part of the spook of the scenery.

These aren’t set in stone, obviously, and who gives a rats patootie about what I think anyway, but remember these are prompts to get you going, not to define your novel or script. Although, they could, who knows? Maybe there is a haunted forest in which a haunted tangerine tree grows? Hmm…

 

Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #2

That didn’t do it for you?

Write the scariest scene you can imagine and work on it until every detail in your mind is clear. What are the smells, the sounds, the colors, the mood. What does it make you think, feel? What part of the scene is scary. Is it just scary? Or are there certain elements that make it scary? Expound.

 

Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #3

Write a juxtaposed scene where the setting is not scary or spooky at all, ie: a bright, warm summer day; or a little league baseball game; or playing with kittens or something like that. try to create a sense of well being and safety in your scene. Then smash through it with something horrifying.

 

Bonus Prompt!

I created this desktop wallpaper out of my own fears (see, I told you, I was a secret horror junkie). You can download the desktop wallpaper here, and write a scary story or scene based on it. wooooooooo……

The Raven Man

The Raven Man

 

Still stuck? Check out Diabolique Strategies for mischievous little provocations for your increased creepiness.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you have any prompts or exercises or advice, please share below. Happy slashing.