Writing Samples and Self Promotion

writing samples

Today we have a reader question about writing samples and portfolios.

Melanie writes:

Hi! Thanks for your site, love the resource and your writing style! I am an aspiring television writer currently working as a PA. Just wanted to get your feedback on creating a portfolio of writing samples, and if this is something I should be putting together. I have a few scripts in the works, but I am intimidated with all of the options for self promotion, including all the social media outlets, blogs, etc… Should I be heavily marketing myself this way? I’ve looked at Portfolio Box to possibly present different aspects of my creativity (photography, writing, editing) and thought that may be a good option.

In your opinion, how can I put myself out there more? PAing is definitely giving me more experience on sets, but I still feel like I am on the “outside” of the creative side. I haven’t met many people that are interested in writing comedy but I am moving to Atlanta (where I am originally from) in a few months and I am planning to take some workshops/maybe try stand up to be around comedians…

Now I am on a tangent, but any thoughts on my scenario will at least make me feel a little bit more validated in my hurry up and wait lifestyle in this industry… it’s nice to hear from someone motivated to do the same thing! Thanks for listening!

Thanks for the kind words! Now down to business…

The answer to your first question is, yes, you should be creating a “portfolio” of writing samples.

You should always be writing and generating new material. With every script you write, you get a little better. And no one is ever going to contemplate hiring you if you don’t have a finished writing sample to show. Always consider your best and latest script as your “writing sample.” But keep your old scripts in your back pocket, because they may come in handy down the line…

It’s good to have different writing samples for different types of shows.

If and when you get representation, your agent or manager will send your samples out for staffing consideration. What sample they send out depends on what type of show you’re trying to staff on. For comedy, it may be good to have a “network” comedy sample and a “cable” comedy sample. Or a “single cam” comedy sample and a “multi-cam” comedy sample. Maybe have something that would air on HBO and another sample that would air on ABC.

For me, being an hour-long drama writer, I have a cop show set in present day. I have a paranormal sci-fi sample. I also have a couple of historical drama samples. Obviously, a rep wouldn’t send my historical drama sample to try and get me a job on a cop show, but for that, they can use my cop show sample. Etc…

On Self Promotion

I’m not familiar with Portfolio Box, so I can not speak to that service, but in general, I firmly believe the best self-promotion you can get is personal connections with people who work in the TV industry. Those are the contacts that are going to help you get the job. So when you DO have a strong writing sample, you have people you can email who will read it, and possibly help you get representation or a meeting with a showrunner about a staff job. Or they could help you get in touch with someone who may want to develop your pilot with you.

Keep in mind; it’s easy for a new writer to get too bogged down with “how to be a writer” or “how to self-promote” when all you should be doing is writing. You said you have a few ideas “in the works.” Write those scripts. Stop worrying about how to self-promote and finish those scripts. Everything else is procrastination. Write. Write. Write.  Then, when you’ve made the right industry connections, get that fantastic script into someone’s hands who can help you.

On Being a Production Assistant

I, like you, started off as a set production assistant. It’s an excellent place to start, but it’s not where you want to be if you desire to write for TV. That is unless you can somehow chat up the writers and producers on set without the AD breathing down your neck. (You can’t)

I would highly suggest trying to move your way into an office production assistant position, or even better, a writers’ assistant position (easier said than done.) That is what I did, and that is how I started to meet the writers and producers who eventually hired me on as their assistants. Which, in turn, gave me the contacts I needed to get my first TV writing job. But this leads to my next point, which you’re probably not going to like…

On Moving to Atlanta

If you want to write in television, you need to be in Los Angeles. All the writers’ rooms are in Los Angeles. All the writers are in Los Angeles. All the agents and managers are in Los Angeles. There may be a couple of shows who write out of Atlanta, but I don’t personally know of any. Even the writers’ room for the show “Atlanta” is probably in Los Angeles. (I may be wrong… but I’m probably right.) Now, I’m not sure if you’re moving from Los Angeles to Atlanta… if you are, I would maybe rethink that strategy. If you’re moving from somewhere else to Atlanta, I would very much think of Atlanta as a stepping stone to get to LA. Keep your eye on the prize.

I hope that answers your questions about writing samples. Also check out my article on HOW TO BECOME A TELEVISION WRITER.

2017 Emmy Scripts – Download PDF – All Nominees

2017 Emmy Scripts

EVERY SINGLE 2017 EMMY SCRIPT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD PDF.

All of these 2017 Emmy scripts are the television scripts that were submitted to the Television Academy for consideration in the 2017 69th Primetime Emmy Awards which were held on September 17, 2017. The files are hosted by the academy, not by this website. Follow the links below to read and download the pdf 2017 Emmy scripts.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special

If any of these script links are not working, please comment or email me, and I will take care of it ASAP. Enjoy!

Good Books 2017 and 2016 Edition

good books 2017

Instead of listing every single book I read in 2016 and 2017, I’m just going to list a few good books I’ve read over the past few years that I feel like recommending. Every single book listed here is a great read. So, get reading!

GOOD SCIENCE FICTION:

The Last Colony (Old Man’s War #3) by John Scalzi

Link to Book One
Link to Book Two

This is book three in the Old Man’s War (first) trilogy. A very entertaining series for anyone remotely interested in science fiction. Scalzi writes his science fiction in an approachable manner, so even if you don’t regularly read science fiction, you will enjoy these books. Scalzi is among the best sci-fi writers out there right now.

“Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.”

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown

Link to Book 2
Link to Book 3

I’ve never read a trilogy of books as fast as I read the first three books in the Red Rising Saga. They are extremely fast-paced. A hybrid of science fiction and fantasy that will leave you yearning for more.

“Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Another fast read, Dark Matter will take you for a loop. Part Science Fiction, part Thriller, and Mystery, this is one exciting book.

““Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.”

GOOD FANTASY:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

Link to Book 2

Now moving on to fantasy, and this is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in years. Can’t wait to dive into book two.

“Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.”

GOOD NONFICTION:

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson

I read this book while I was in the Caribbean, and it had me aching to dive the coral reefs in search of a lost treasure ship. Robert Kurson is a master story-teller. His books read like novels and will grip you like the best mystery fiction out there. If you love history, or pirates, or ships, or diving, or archaeology… give this book a read!

“Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.”

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Part nonfiction, history, and adventure, The Lost City of Z was a fascinating look into the exploration of the Amazon rainforest. And all the … horrors … that abide within. From bugs laying their larva in your skin, to fish crawling up your urethra. The age of exploration at its finest.

“A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century”: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett & his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925, Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humans. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions inspired Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions round the globe, Fawcett embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilisation–which he dubbed Z–existed. Then his expedition vanished. Fawcett’s fate, & the tantalizing clues he left behind about Z, became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness.

For decades scientists & adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party & the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes or gone mad. As Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, & the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s green hell. His quest for the truth & discoveries about Fawcett’s fate & Z form the heart of this complexly enthralling narrative.”

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

For years the only thing I knew about the sinking of the Lusitania was that it caused the USA to fight in WW1. There is so much more to this story and, like usual, Erik Larson does a great job telling it.

“On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship – the fastest then in service – could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small – hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more–all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.”

There you have it. Some good books 2017 and 2016 edition.

2018 Oscar Scripts – Download PDF – All Nominees

2018 Oscar Scripts

DOWNLOAD 2018 OSCAR SCRIPTS / SCREENPLAYS – PDF – ALL NOMINEES

Below you can find all the 2018 Oscar scripts for this year’s 90th Academy Awards, which aired March 4, 2018.

(These scripts are not hosted by this website. If the script is not hosted by official channels, it will say where it is hosted in brackets).

Best Original Screenplay – 2018 Oscar Scripts

Best Adapted Screenplay – 2018 Oscar Scripts

If any of these script links are not working, please comment or email me, and I will take care of it ASAP. Enjoy!

(Click here for the 2017 Oscar scripts)

(Click here for the 2018 Emmy TV scripts)

2017 Oscar Scripts – Download PDF – All Nominees

2017 Oscar Scripts

DOWNLOAD 2017 OSCAR SCRIPTS / SCREENPLAYS – PDF – ALL NOMINEES

This post is coming… a little late. But with the success of my last post on the 2018 Emmy nominated TV scripts which you can find HERE, I’ve decided to go ahead and find all the screenplays for last years Oscars, the 89th Academy Awards, which aired February 26, 2017. (I will also post an updated 2018 Oscars post which you will be able to find HERE when it’s up.)

(These scripts are not hosted by this website. If the script is not hosted by official channels, it will say where it is hosted in brackets).

Best Original Screenplay – 2017 Oscar Scripts

Best Adapted Screenplay – 2017 Oscar Scripts

 

(Click here for the 2018 Oscar scripts)

(Click here for the 2018 Emmy TV scripts)

If any of these script links are not working, please comment or email me, and I will take care of it ASAP. Enjoy!

2018 Emmy Scripts – Download PDF – All Nominees

EVERY SINGLE 2018 EMMY SCRIPT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD PDF.

All of these 2018 Emmy scripts are the television scripts that were submitted to the Television Academy for consideration in the 2018 70th Primetime Emmy Awards which will be held on September 17, 2018. The files are hosted by the academy, not by this website. Follow the links below to read and download the pdf 2018 Emmy scripts.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special

 

If any of these script links are not working, please comment or email me, and I will take care of it ASAP. Enjoy!

Uncommon Words: Part Three (The Name of the Wind)

uncommon words

Welcome back to another edition of “Uncommon Words” featuring exciting words I find in fiction.

These articles feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any book spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

You can find other articles in this series here.

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Name of the Wind” which is book one in “The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss.

THE NAME OF THE WIND:

  • verdigris. n. a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate.
    • Usage in book: “Nearby there were three great pillars covered in green verdigris so thick it looked like moss.”
  • spurious. adj. not being what it purports to be; false or fake.
    • Usage in book: “Re’lar Ambrose, in the future you will refrain from wasting our time with spurious charges.”
  • inveterate. adj. having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change.
    • Usage in book: “Threpe was an inveterate gossipmonger with a knack for tasteless innuendo, and I have always had a gift for a catchy tune.”
  • rote. n. mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned.
    • Usage in book: “They are fine for rote learning, but the study of naming requires a level of dedication that ravel such as yourself rarely possess.”
  • remand. v. place (a defendant) on bail or in custody, esp. when a trail is adjourned.
    • Usage in book: “Re’lar Ambrose is officially remanded for laxity in his duty.”
  • mollify. v. appease the anger or anxiety of (someone).
    • Usage in book: “Arwyl seemed mollified.”
  • simulacrum. n. an image or representation of someone or something. <SPECIAL USAGE> an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.
    • Usage in book: “You let the boy make a simulacrum of you, then bring him here on malfeasance?”
  • auspicious. adj. conductive to success; favorable.
    • Usage in book: “I took it to be an auspicious sign and walked in.”
  • sophist. n. a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with moral skepticism and specious reasoning. <SPECIAL USAGE> a person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments.
    • Usage in book: “You sound like a sophist, boy.”
  • altruism. n. the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
    • Usage in book: “If this is to be a full and honest account of my life and deeds, I feel I should mention that my reasons for inviting Ben into our troupe were not entirely altruistic.”

Writing On the Go: Writing While Driving Using Dictation

writing on the go

WRITING ON THE GO USING DICTATION IS NOT ONLY EASY, IT’S SMART.

If you’re like me, you spend an insanely inordinate amount of time sitting in traffic. [This is especially true if you live in Los Angeles.] Usually, I fill up this time with podcasts or audiobooks. However, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been thinking about how I could use that time to write on the go? How can I work on a screenplay or teleplay while driving (without actually writing while driving and getting into a wreck)? That’s when I discovered that the NOTES app on my iPhone has a dictation feature!  Check it out below — see the little MICROPHONE button? Press that microphone button and start talking (on your phone, not the picture, dummie).

Writing on the go

Dictation isn’t perfect by any means.

The app gets a whole lot of words completely wrong. And it stops dictating after a paragraph or two for unknown reasons causing you to have to hit the little microphone button again and again (maybe it’s trying to catch up). And when I go back review the dictation, sometimes I have to try and figure out what I just said. But if I’m sitting in my car for 30min-1hour, it’s now entirely possible for me to hit that microphone button and start working out entire scenes in my head. I have figured out so many script problems over the past few months by doing this. I sit in traffic and talk through scenes out loud, while the dictation feature notes everything I say down for me. “What if this happens, no what about this, and then this could happen, and then this line of dialogue could happen.” It’s incredible how much work you can get done thinking out loud in a car for 30 min to an hour.

THINKING ON THE PAGE

Just like the process of “thinking on the page” (where you come up with ideas while writing, rather than coming up with ideas outside of writing), I find breaking scenes by talking out loud to be extremely productive. It FORCES you to work. When thinking about scenes in your head, it’s easy to give up or get distracted. But by thinking about scenes OUT LOUD (just like thinking out scenes while writing them), you’re actively doing something. You’re on a mission. Just keep talking and don’t let yourself stop. And record it ALL with dictation.  Half the time, I don’t even need to go back and read the dictation, because the process will give me the ideas I need to fix the problem or generate the right approach for the scene.

OTHER PROGRAMS

If you don’t have a dictation option on your phone (almost all phones have them now) you can check out some other devices that do the same thing.

It’s amazing what you can do in only 20-30 minutes while thinking outloud. Writing on the go. Give it a try!

Updates: Website Maintenance, SSL Certificates, and Name Servers

Updates SLL Nameservers

WEBSITE AND LIFE UPDATES:

A lot has happened since I let this website fall into the netherworld. Browsers are now blocking sites that don’t have SSL certificates, or at the very least, informing users that the website is not “secure.” I don’t know the finer details of how this all works, all I know is that many of you probably encountered some irritating warning over the past — who knows how long — that this website may be compromised, or not safe, or hacked by ISIS, or something of that nature. Rest assured, this website is completely safe, and the internet was just forcing me into buying an SSL certificate. It kind of feels like racketeering. But, whatevs. Now that I have acquired an SSL certificate, when you look up near the website name in your browser, depending on what browser you’re using, you should see a little “LOCK” icon, indicating this website is safe. Yay!

Another thing that happened while I was away … my host changed their name servers, and I still had this domain tied to the old name servers. This made it so a whole lot of people COULDN’T even access this website if they wanted to. Entire regions of the United States and parts of the world were locked out of visiting this site because of some crazy DNS “server not found” error. Anyway, I’ve switched us over to the new name servers, and that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. So if you’re seeing this website for the first time in a while, yay! It worked!

On the home front, I’ve finished up a pilot script and pitch document for a new show I’m developing. Right now that is in a holding pattern, as the project is in someone else’s hands for about a week. So, I’m looking at about a week of free time. What do I do? Besides trying to get this website back up and running, I’ve dusted off an old screenplay that’s been sitting on a shelf for two years. I have some big ideas on how to fix some of its many problems (problems that got me to shelve it in the first place). So I’m going to spend the next week rewriting that sucker and getting it into enough shape to send out for some notes.

This most significant problem with that script was the ending. And by that, I mean there was no ending. I wrote the entire screenplay, but because I got antsy during the outline, I never figured out the end before I started writing. So once I got to the ending, I got lost.  The other day I was driving in traffic on the ten freeway (or as I like to call it, FUCKING HELL) and the ending just popped into my head. Out of nowhere. Like, as if the story had been moving around in my head for the past two years without me knowing. Now I have an ending. So I’m going to write it.

In other news, the comic book pitch I’ve been working on is coming along nicely. Art is done. Color is almost done. Then I just have to ship it off to the letterer and finish up the pitch doc, and that sucker will be ready to send out.

Anyway. If anyone has any questions about getting a job as a production assistant or as a writer or anything like that, shoot me a question via the “ASK ME A QUESTION” link in the top menu.

Writing Sample: Write an Original Pilot or Spec of Existing TV Show?

Part of trying to get work as a TV writer (or any writing job) is having an excellent writing sample. A writing sample is a script you wrote that shows off your skills. It shows off your voice. It’s your calling card. You need a strong writing sample to get a writing job (and you should preferably have two,  in different genres). But should you write a TV Pilot or Spec Script?

When it comes to television, you have the choice of writing an original pilot episode (the first episode of a television show) or a spec (speculative) episode of an existing show. This doesn’t mean you should write a spec episode of the show you want to write for (because many shows legally cannot read spec episodes of their own show), but instead, you should write a spec episode for a show that is in the same genre you want to write in. For example, back in the day, you could write a spec X-Files episode to try and get a job on Buffy or another genre show. Now, before you start cooking up the perfect “Game of Thrones” episode — just STOP. Because no one wants to read spec episodes of existing shows anymore.

I shouldn’t say NO ONE, because I’ve heard many interviews with writers and showrunners who WISH people still wanted to read specs for existing shows, but that is not the case anymore. The reason these few writers and showrunners wish this is because when you’re a writer on a TV show, you’re working for a SHOWRUNNER. And in most cases, that showrunner is the person who created the show. Your job is not to write your vision in your voice, your job is to write FOR the showrunner’s vision and emulate the showrunner’s voice. Writing a spec sample for an existing tv show will give the showrunner a sense of how good you can emulate an existing shows voice. How well you can capture existing character’s voices. But alas, that is not the world we live in today.

There has been a shift over the past few years, and now everyone (and by everyone I mostly mean agents and managers) only want to read ORIGINAL MATERIAL. That means if you’re trying to become a TV writer, you need to write an original pilot episode. This is much harder than writing an existing show. You have the create everything. Characters, Setting, Plot, Theme. You’ve got to do it all. And it has to be great. It has to be engaging. And it has to have LEGS. That is to say, the reader has to see the potential for this single episode to turn into multiple seasons.

There are multiple reasons why people want to read original pilots these days. First, they want to see what YOUR original voice is. They want to see if your voice lends itself to their TV show. And because writing a pilot is so much harder, it also sets the bar for quality much higher. Another big reason is that agents and managers can not only use an original pilot as a writing sample, they can try and SELL IT (and I think this is probably the biggest reason this trend started).

So there you have it. Writing a spec of an original show is a complete waste of time because nobody gives a shit anymore. So go off and write a pilot! Good luck! You’re gonna need it.