The deadline for the next Red Planet Prize is Friday 22nd January 2016. The Prize is one of the best TV writing opportunities out there, and it’s free to enter.
I’ve been involved with the competition since its inception in 2007 as a reader/judge, so here’s the first of my top 5 tips on what I think makes a good submission (read: a good TV script/series), and how you can craft your first ten pages to the best they can be.
1. CORE CONCEPT
Is your idea original? Or an original twist on a familiar but popular genre? ‘Cops and Docs’ shows are always in vogue but you want to dress to impress not rehash old fashions, so what’s your take on the genre?
If your idea/genre is more ambitious, like sci-fi or supernatural or a period piece, then what is it about the idea that will get us excited? Does your core concept have a neat ‘irony of character’ that can generate a reliable format for returning series?
Most of the time, scripts read too samey. No idea is truly unique any more but an original take on a familiar concept will stand out. For the Red Planet Prize, the reader will have probably read your logline before they start reading your script, which already conjures up some expectations. Make sure the script starts with the right tone and approach based on the promise of the premise. Occasionally, the appeal of the core concept can take the reader beyond the first ten pages even if not much has seemingly happened in the opening scenes.
So, it’s worth spending time on your core concept. What’s the hook? What’s the genre? How will the premise/format generate story ideas beyond episode one, and beyond? It’s usually easy to say what happens in episode 2, but what happens in episode 52?