Writing a TV Show Proposal

Writing a TV show proposal or a pitch can be strenuous because it involves much more than the story and your characters. It involves being able to sell an idea to a network or an executive and making that idea seem completely profitable, one that their target demographic would enjoy.

Let’s start with something that you may know the most about regarding writing a TV show proposal – the concept. The concept is the thesis statement, the driving force of your show if you will. Popular concepts throughout TV history involve “Drug-Addict Genius Doctor” (House M.D.), a group of friends that hang out together (Friends), and a show about nothing (Seinfeld). These concepts will determine what kind of stories, mishaps and adventures that the people in the story will have.

Some concepts, such as the one for House M.D., don’t have to be high-brow — writing a TV show proposal may be as easy as creating a character that can drive the events of the story, writing someone so interesting that people will watch to see how he or she will resolve the issue of the week.

Writing a TV show proposal also involves being able to appeal to the needs of the network and the executives that run the network. While some of them may be doing it for the art, many of them – including the people who are doing it for the art – are probably also in it for the money. Whatever your concept or character is, it has to be one that will sell to their demographic, or the people that their network is catering to. You wouldn’t expect the Discovery Channel to accept a story about a corrupt oil tycoon that has no environmental message. Fox, on the other hand, might pick it up due to the suspense and tension that a character like that creates.

Writing a TV show proposal is fifty percent about what you want to write about and fifty percent showing the people you’re proposing it to that the people who are going to watch it are going to be as enthusiastic about it as you probably are, if not more. It needs to capture the imagination of viewers, to appeal to the kind of sponsors they have on that network. In short, it needs to be something that will help them — and of course you — earn money. If you can position your proposal properly, you will greatly increase the chances that your script will be read and bought. Think of your proposal as a cover letter. Consider how many employers are so turned off by potential employees cover letter that they do not even bother reading their resume, let alone asking them to come in for an interview. The same applies for TV show proposal writing.

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