Creating the Winning Series Premise

Creating the Winning Series Premise

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More and more aspiring television writers are coming up with their own original series ideas these days – and writing pilots on spec – but there is very little guidance on how to do this from existing screenwriting books and courses.  Knowledge about what networks, producers and agents look for in a series idea and pilot is known by experienced industry players and established TV writers, but not by those trying to break in – and it’s a very different set of guidelines from feature film writing, or even writing a sample episode of an existing series.  But original pilots are what showrunners mostly look at today as writing samples for openings on their staffs, so it’s crucial to understand how to create a winning one.

Multiple Emmy-winning writer-producer Erik Bork (best known for the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON), has developed numerous drama and comedy series ideas into pitches or spec pilot scripts, and optioned or sold them to companies like NBC, Fox Broadcasting, Sony TV, ABC Studios and Imagine Entertainment.  Beyond that, he’s participated in dozens and dozens of meetings with network and studio executives, producers, and his agents at CAA to discuss ideas which would eventually sell or not sell, and the reasons for same – forming an education-on-the-job about how primetime series TV works (broadcast and cable), and what is looked for from writers trying to break in.

This webinar will include all of the important principles Erik has learned in that process about the elements of a successful drama or comedy series premise, what types of shows tend to work or not work (and why), and what a pilot script should include and focus on.  He will share his thoughts on the various television genres, and how cable, premium cable, and streaming services have changed the landscape (but not necessarily the writer’s main job).  With multiple examples from successful shows and his own history developing original series, he’ll take attendees through a crash course on everything that they need to know (and probably don’t yet know) about what the television industry wants, needs and values in terms of original series ideas and pilots.


  • “What’s the franchise?” – and other annoying questions executives ask.
  • Why doctors, lawyers and cops always seem to dominate prime time.
  • “Wanting something they can never have”: the key to good TV characters.
  • The emotional thrill ride that is the annual series development cycle.
  • How most aspiring writers think of television storytelling the wrong way.
  • The (superficial) differences between broadcast, basic and pay cable.
  • How “procedural” and “personal” are the only two kinds of TV stories.
  • How “3-act structure” works on TV, despite shows not having 3 acts!
  • Juggling A, B and C stories, and the characters who “get” them.
  • What a “premise pilot” is, and why you really shouldn’t write one.


  • Writers who are considering writing television scripts (of any kind).
  • Writers who think they have a great idea for a series (or wish they did).
  • Writers who are tired of the negatives of feature screenplay writing.
  • Writers who think television is possibly the best place for them.
  • Writers interested in getting on a TV writing staff.
  • Writers who live in L.A. or outside of L.A.
  • Writers who have a television script they think is ready.
  • Writers looking for inspiration and guidance from someone just like them.

The Writers Store does not offer any refunds for the webinar. All sales are final.