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Writing a Spec Script for a Television Comedy or Drama Series

At a Glance

  • An Online, Instructor-Led or Self-Paced, OnDemand Course designed to teach screenwriters how to create a bulletproof television spec script, a vital addition to any aspiring tv screenwriter's portfolio
  • Get professional-level feedback on your story and scene ideas
  • Accomplish all the "heavy lifting" creative processes that underpin a solid spec script!

In this workshop, writers will learn all the key elements to a successful “episodic spec,” and will receive ongoing instructor guidance in building their own—from basic idea through finished outline.  It begins with knowing how to choose the right kind of show to spec, then understanding which elements to study, in order to really grasp how a typical episode functions—well enough to write one.  Students will then learn the elements of great story ideas for a spec, and be given a chance to pitch and re-pitch multiple ideas for their episode, before finally settling on one to write.  At that point, they will begin “breaking story” (figuring out the key “beats” of each “act”) over several weeks, getting instructor feedback along the way.  Finally, they will be guided in crafting a scene-by-scene outline, from which they could then go on to write the actual script.

This workshop is offered in two formats. The budget-friendly On Demand option (which is for sale here) gives you the option to work on the same great workshop materials as the Online option, only without instructor feedback. You'll immediately receive our comprehensive course in PDF format, which provides instructions and exercises on specific skills you will need to succeed as a screenwriter. You can purchase the On Demand option here. To get the Online option with instructor feedback and online discussions with other students, please click here.


In this online writing course you will learn:
  • How to find the best current series to represent your creative talents
  • The key elements of TV story structure
  • How the TV business works for writers trying to break in
  • How to bypass the key mistakes aspiring TV writers make in their specs

Course Outline

Session One: Picking the Right Show to Spec
  • What makes a good series to spec?
  • How do specs function in a TV writer’s career?
  • What is the industry looking for in a successful spec?
  • How important is it that it’s a show I love?
Session Two: Studying Your Show
  • The most crucial things about your show to understand, and get right
  • How many stories does it have per episode, and “who gets stories”?
  • How TV story structure compares to feature film structure
Session Three: How Do the Stories on your Show Work?
  • The differences between “procedural” and “personal” stories
  • The four basic kinds of procedural stories
  • Why some workplaces generate compelling TV stories, and some don’t
  • How personal stories are driven by characters’ frustrations and fantasies
Session Four: What Makes a Good Story for a Spec?
  • How do I handle serialized stories that evolve from episode to episode?
  • How do I make it work for people who don’t know the show that well?
  • Why you should identify a main character for each story, and focus on them
Session Five: Common Problems with Story Ideas for a Spec
  • Making sure your main characters are pressed to their limit
  • The importance of believability, and following “what’s real”
  • Subjective point-of-view and active characters
  • The best stories come from a strong emotional core
Session Six: Making Sure You Have Enough Story
  • Conflict and complications – the lifeblood of any good episode
  • How many twists and turns do good stories need to have?
  • Why problem-solving is at the core of all good scenes
Session Seven: Beginning to Break Story
  • What is “breaking story,” and why does it take a whole staff to do it?
  • Why stories that “walk in the door” are so helpful to TV writers
  • How strong emotions and desires drive characters from scene to scene
  • Why the key question to ask is: “What might happen next?”
Session Eight: Understanding How Good Scenes and Acts Work
  • How a good scene is a microcosm of a story, with the same structure
  • Why “human against human” is the primary kind of conflict on TV
  • How “acts” function on TV, and “writing to the commercial break”
  • Identifying clear main character wants to drive your stories forward
Session Nine: Crises, Climaxes and Resolutions
  • The importance of having an “All is Lost” moment late in your stories
  • Why the last act always consists of a “final battle”
  • How your characters’ status quo lives begin and end all episodes
Session Ten: Starting Your Outline
  • “Zooming in” your emotional focus to flesh out scenes in more detail
  • How adversarial forces are the key element to any scene
  • Making sure every scene “changes the game” of the main story problem
  • How to keep your scenes and actions active and passion-filled
Session Eleven: Keeping the Reader Engaged Through Strong Point-of-View
  • Why you must bring your own voice, while staying in the show’s voice
  • Why audience investment depends on experiencing events through particular character points-of-view
  • How being “mysterious” is overrated – when it comes to your main character’s motivations and plans
Session Twelve: Keeping the Story Moving, Right up to the End
  • Is any amount of “story” too much story for an episode?
  • Trying to solve problems creates new ones – the key to building a story
  • The role of passionate emotional drive in every TV story
  • How outlines function in the television business

Product Details

  • Publication date: 09/20/2013
  • Return policy: This item is not eligible for return.

Return Policy

Your satisfaction is our top priority. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, please return the item(s) for an exchange or refund within 30 days from the purchase date, unless otherwise noted on the product page.

Ship the item(s) to The Writers Store via a traceable and insured method. You will be responsible for return shipping fees.

Please include a completed Return Form with your shipment. Refunds take up to one week to process once we have received the item(s).

Software returns must be deactivated and uninstalled from your computer before a refund may be issued. Please contact the software manufacturer if you need assistance uninstalling or deactivating your software.

The following items are not returnable: Hollywood Creative Directories, DVDs (opened), and Gift Certificates.

$374.99