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Online Writing Class

How to Write a TV Pilot

HOW TO WRITE A TV PILOT:  An Introduction to the Craft of Creating a TV Show by Christina Hamlett

START DATE:  Starts the First Tuesday of Every Month

DURATION:  4 weeks

LOCATION:  Email only

FEEDBACK:  Instructor feedback

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This 4-week class provides an overview of the techniques and formatting requirements to develop an original TV series. The lectures and assignments cover character development, dialogue, genre, structure, pacing, budget, and marketability. All materials submitted are critiqued by a professional screenplay consultant and learners are free to ask as many questions as they’d like about how to turn a story idea into a commercial, pitch-ready script.

Christina is not only formidably talented and experienced, her passion for the written word is non pareil which makes working with her an experience that a writer lucky enough to do so will keep with them for a very long time to come. Christina is the Rolls Royce of script consultants. ~ Julie Gray, Founder, The Script Department and author of The Rouge Wave

Christina's the best. Shortly after the first workshop production of my musical, "MadAvenue," I asked her to help fix some things I thought needed changing. Her advice and suggestions were amazing. What a difference she made! Thanks, thanks, thanks to a real pro." ~ Walt Bagot

As an artist, I work with creative high school students as a mentor. Encouraging these fine young people to "keep at it" is a real challenge. Keeping their passion alive is the goal of the mentoring teams that I field. Christina Hamlett has accomplished something quite rare as an author/teacher in her "Screenwriting for Teens." First, she breaks her message down into (well organized) bite-sized pieces for easy mental digestion. Secondly, with the assistance of young Nick Morgan, she speaks directly to her audience in a most compelling way. Thirdly, she demystifies this important lesson about story telling. And, lastly, this book resonates with any person interested in learning how to be a more effective storyteller . . . the author's genuine warmth and intelligence imbue each and every page. ~ Dan Koffman, Artist-educator

Christina Hamlett is one of our most valuable writers. She takes care to attune herself to each client’s individual vision, and dedicates herself to realizing the potential of every project. She also has a keen eye for the needs of the market, and never hesitates to provide the client with honest and invaluable advice. ~ Sara King, Project Manager, Penn Group, LLC

Working with Christina Hamlett has been a wonderful experience. Her professionalism, attention to detail, and positive attitude has made it so easy to work with her. I appreciate her willingness to share her knowledge and I admire her passion and infectious enthusiasm.  ~ Maggie Worrix King


Week 1: Genre & Concept

The type of TV show you want to write is often a reflection of the weekly programs you most enjoy watching. As preparation for your first writing assignment, you’ll identify six shows in your chosen genre (comedy, drama, SciFi, reality, etc.). Two of them will be shows that are currently on the air and ranking high in Nielsen ratings; two of them will be shows you liked that were cancelled after their first season; the final two will be shows produced prior to 1990. Following an assessment of these shows’ strengths and weaknesses, your homework is to describe your original concept, its target demographic, and how it compares and contrasts with previously produced programs.

Week 2: Characters & Settings

Lt. Columbo. Carrie Bradshaw. Charlie’s Angels. Michael Scott. Agent Scully. Memorable characters are the stuff of sustainable shows. They’re the fictional personalities that viewers invite into their living rooms every week and, accordingly, they need to have plausible traits and motivations that make them watchable. In this module, you’ll be developing a back-story on the recurring characters that will people your own TV series plot. Where did they come from? What are their dreams and fears? What’s their lifestyle? What are their quirks? You’ll also be determining an appropriate setting for your show. Will it always transpire in the same place such as an office, a bar, an island, an apartment building...or will different locales be required for each episode? Will your lead players always interact with the same group of people or is the premise predicated on guest stars every week?

Week 3: Dialogue & Formatting

Teleplays—like screenplays—are comprised of master scenes, action blocks and dialogue. This module focuses on how to craft natural-sounding conversations, introduce new characters in scenes, minimize staging directions and appreciate the difference between “reel” time versus “real time.” Preparation of the first five pages of your pilot episode will demonstrate your understanding of the concepts.

Week 4: Loglines, Synopses & Perfect Pitch

This module is all about packaging and pitching your concept through contests, query letters, pitch festivals, Internet resources and the development of video trailers. You’ll learn about loglines, synopses and the creation of a series “bible”—an overview of what you see developing for the characters after the initial episode. Following completion of your homework assignment, you’ll then have two weeks to write and submit your pilot episode for professional evaluation.

Materials needed: All materials are supplied by the instructor.


Christina Hamlett

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:  Former actress and theatre director Christina Hamlett is an award-winning author whose credits to date include 47 books, 266 stage plays and squillions of articles, blogs, and interviews. She is also a script consultant for stage and screen, a gourmet cook and a professional ghostwriter. Her cozy mystery series is set against the backdrop of the UK and currently includes A LITTLE LARCENY IN LYNMOUTH, A LITTLE SCANDAL IN ST. ANDREWS, A LITTLE DRAMA IN DUNSTER, and A LITTLE POISON IN PAISLEY.

COST:  $150, which includes one-on-one support and critiques through email. All content and critiques are exchanged by email.

BUY NOW:  HOW TO WRITE A TV PILOT: An Introduction to the Craft of Creating a TV Show, by Christina Hamlett (4 weeks, starting the first Tuesday of the month.) Limit: 10 students.

Notes:  Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. She will contact you via email so you can get started.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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