02,December
2013

BBC writersroom: TV outline tips

For practical and proactive tips to make it as a writer, get the UK Scriptwriter’s Survival Handbook, available on Kindle and paperback!

** THIS POST WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2013 BUT COULD BE USEFUL FOR GENERAL REF **

The BBC’s writersroom is currently open for submissions but the deadline is 16th December 2013, just a couple of weeks away.

If you’re submitting a TV script,  they ask that you include “a brief outline (1-3 pages) of further episodes and the series/serial as a whole.” But what does this mean exactly? If you’ve never written an outline of this kind before, or not given much thought on how the rest of your series shapes up, then what kind of detail should you include? Here’s a few tips:

– remind them of the logline (the core concept) at the start of the outline, and how many episodes there are (e.g. 6 x 60 mins).
– after the logline consider writing an ‘overview’ of the series: a broad summary of what it’s about, who the main characters are,  why it’s exciting/interesting/original or where the storyline is headed.
– from here, brief episode outlines are useful, but they don’t have to go into great detail. A simple logline or story idea for each episode would suffice, e.g. “Episode 1: Danny tries to hit a writing deadline but an unexpected alien invasion distracts him so he sets out to save the world and somehow make his deadline in the process.” You don’t have to stick to one sentence summary, two-three sentences would be fine, or even a short paragraph but no need to go overboard.
– you may have room for some short character biographies, which might be useful, depending on the project or what information you want the reader to know.
– similarly, a brief note on theme or audience appeal might be effective.

There’s no set format or rules for an outline of this type. Essentially, you just want to summarise what the show is about and how each episode will develop, and/or how the overall series shapes up. But do keep true to the tone and flavour of the series; don’t get too dry or formal, otherwise it will read as dull/boring. Here’s an example of one of my TV outlines, below, or the direct link, in case you want a look.

For the Red Planet Prize, deadline 6th January 2014, a one-page outline is required, and this can follow the similar style and approach as the above. I’ll blog separately about the Red Planet Prize specifications but for now, get your TV script into the BBC writersroom. What are you waiting for?

For practical and proactive tips to make it as a writer, get the UK Scriptwriter’s Survival Handbook, available on Kindle and paperback!

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  • Link: Lisa Holdsworth On TV Pitch Documents | Endless Realms said:

    […] An older link, but no less useful for it. Jason Arnopp summarises Lisa Holdsworth’s talk on TV pitch documents. It also reminds me, I probably need to revise my own Pitch Template and include a variant for TV pitching, based around Danny Stack’s TV Outline Tips. […]

    […] An older link, but no less useful for it. Jason Arnopp summarises Lisa Holdsworth’s talk on TV pitch documents. It also reminds me, I probably need to revise my own Pitch Template and include a variant for TV pitching, based around Danny Stack’s TV Outline Tips. […]