Shawna Lynn Cox

TV drama isn’t about the concept, it runs on the emotional fuel of endless character arcs. –Pamela Douglas, Writing the TV Drama Series.

While I’m prepping for my first pitch to Netflix the end of next month, I’m doing my research on what that looks like and how to prepare – or rather, not OVER prepare.

This is a work in progress.

What I discovered is something called the ‘TV Format’ or ‘Series Proposal’, which is the very first meet and greet and informal pitch of your series concept to a network exec or producer.

I love Pamela Douglas because she saved me by giving solid, actionable direction on how to pitch a Series. On finding her book, Writing the TV Drama Series, I quickly realized that I was doing way too much prep and using tools that don’t come into play until later in the development cycle. She got me pointed in the right direction and with some reflection on Robert McKee‘s, ‘Story’, and the eternal vision of Joseph Campbell’s, ‘The Hero’s Journey’, here’s where I am beginning to build my own map to the pitch.

What a Format is not:

  • an outline or treatment.
  • a script or a series bible.

What a Format is:

  • Mental Bar Napkins.
  • An opening to something bigger.

The first meeting is as much about them learning who you are and how you might be to work with as it is about your series. It’s a blind date, where you both get a feel for what may lie ahead, because with a series, it could be a relationship that spans years. So ditch the ego and a hard sell and be open to building something everyone can get behind.

The real work lies before the meeting:

  • write everything down to clarify as much of your series as possible.
  • research your competition and borrow from success.
  • share and discuss with others to hone ideas, they are your audience.
  • listen to others thoughts and consider their opinions, they matter.

Think of that first meeting more like an audition, where your energy, confidence and readiness to take notes and collaborate goes miles over if you walk in, never look up at the producer because you are reading every line off the page.

An actor leaves all their prep at the door and they walk in knowing what they want, ready to fight for it, ready to listen and ready for anything to happen once they engage with the reader. As Shakespeare is quoted,

“The play’s the thing.”

Your Next Step:

The building block for your pitch: The TV Series Format Template : Write it Down

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