Join Marilyn Horowitz for: Sitcom Success: The Perfect Pilot in 30 Days. In the final installment of this 10-part series, discover the importance of revisions and polish!
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Congratulations! You’ve completed your first draft—but that’s not what sells. What sells is the polish. To keep your project moving in the right direction, it’s time to make some hard decisions.
For the revisions and polish, you have two choices. You can do it yourself or you can have it done by a professional. There is no shame in this second option. Many writers ask for help at this stage. Whatever your decision, remember, to make a sale, you need several things: a great story, great characters, and top-shelf comedy writing. So before a pilot is shopped, it can be helpful to add the following: a story check, a character check, and a comedy punch-up.
In my experience, there is almost always a big gap between the first draft and the final, marketable pilot. I often help writers bridge this gap. I do this in two ways.
1) You rewrite it—and I guide you through the process until the draft is perfect.
2) I rewrite your pilot, revising and cleaning up the draft for you.
In both cases, you retain all rights to your script and sole credit. My name appears nowhere.
Whatever you decide, doing it yourself or with help, make sure that your pilot has been polished and then vetted by an industry professional before pitching or presenting it.
“Create Your Series Bible”
The series “Bible” is an essential selling tool when presenting a pilot for consideration to a network or producer. It includes the following: a concept statement, which is an expansion of your premise describing the story and why your demographic will be interested in watching it. It also includes a synopsis of the pilot, character descriptions, your bio and a list of any other people involved, and ideas for future episodes, either 6, 11, or 22, depending on the buyer. Providers such as Netflix and Amazon will usually want to see at least 6 episode ideas, while a traditional network may want to see as many as 11 or 22.
Further, it’s important that this document be extremely brief. For example, character descriptions should be no more than three lines each. It must be extremely professional, and, most importantly, because it is a sitcom that you are pitching, it must be funny! And be sure to have it professionally copy-edited and proofread, because your series Bible is going to be your calling card when you go to present your work.
- More articles by Marilyn Horowitz
- Sitcom Success: Create Your Beat-by-Beat Outline
- Download your FREE TV Pilot Kit to help you create your pilot!