How to turn an idea into a TV series

Forget the movies. Television shows are the primary medium for visual storytelling.

Almost everyone can access television (an important feature of everyday life in one form or another), but movies and movies? Only a few people in the system and the vast majority of creatives can access it.

Television is a “mysterious” and untapped industry, but global television subscription revenue reached nearly $200 billion in 2019.

With such massive popularity and sales, how can you develop your idea into a TV series?

Compose a Bible series

To understand the reason for creating a television series, compose a bible of the series.

This is a document explaining the background of your idea. The series bible introduces us to your characters, their actions in the series and the situations they will face.

Simply put, a serial bible contains your ideas and supports them.

It paints a picture of your characters and why they exist, what they set out to solve, and the lessons they will learn (so your audience can relate).

Break down the characters

A television series has main characters. They have different roles and embody the many “hidden” goals and ideas in your story.

You want the characters to experience a lot of conflict – think internal and external conflicts– to help you maintain a full TV series over an extended period of time.

And the best way to do that is to break down the show’s main characters.

Write short paragraphs explaining each of the main characters and their conflicts.

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Breakdown of current episodes

The TV series should be smooth to stick your audience on the screen.

This flow is achieved when you portray how your characters embrace the conflicts that affect them both internally and externally.

Breaking down the episodes (in the form of short paragraphs) creates a flow of issues and problems facing the characters, which helps you identify seasonal arcs and character arcs.

Your idea will only come to life when you arrange all the episodes smoothly.

Write the pilot episode

You can come up with a great idea and present a great TV series, but without a pilot episode your idea will not fly.

A pilot episode paints a vivid picture of the show’s creative process. Essentially, how you executed it – from tone and subtext to your characters’ actions.

A pilot episode includes dialogue between your characters. It highlights the flow of the story, including the pacing and any unique aspects that shine through in your storyline.

Audiences have no idea which direction your characters will take, but a pilot episode will help them figure it out without guessing.

If you have an idea for a TV series, sit down and plan everything from start to finish to bring your idea to life. Otherwise, your idea will remain just that – an idea.