Wednesday, January 30, 2019

10 Years of Bitter Posts - Pilot Live Tweets

While I was working on a new TV pilot, I did something that really should be required for anyone doing the same - I reviewed the pilots of some of my favorite shows, as well as some shows with similar genres as the one I was writing.

You shouldn't just passively watch these introductory episodes. You study them - observe how they establish characters and plotlines. Take note of how efficiently a character is established in their first scene. Scrutinize how scenes are written to showcase multiple dynamics at once, all while advancing the story and establishing a complete world.

Pilots are some of the hardest things to write. They're full of exposition, but shouldn't FEEL expository. There's limited space to establish seven or eight characters to a strong enough degree that the audience feels a connection with them AND they have to tell a compelling story while providing a model that shows this world can sustain dozens more stories in the same location with the same people.

There are a thousand ways a well-intentioned pilot can go bad. Just look at the pilots that made it on-air and marvel that there were probably six times as many that didn't get to that stage.

But a great pilot? It's like watching a goddamn symphony.

So for several weeks, I did live-tweet breakdowns of classic pilot eps, covering several different genres and styles. While I watched each ep, I broke down scene-by-scene what was going on, how it served a function in the pilot and highlighted writing techniques that it's useful to know. After the fact, I archived these live-tweets on the blog, converting them into an easier to read paragraph form.

I did my best to make sure these made sense even if you didn't have the show on a TV in front of you. Take a look at these six livetweets.

Pilot Breakdowns:
Veronica Mars
The Office
Homicide: Life on the Street

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