There are subtle yet important differences between writing for the page, the movies and television. While books and movies will always be with us, these days the action is on the small screen (especially with streaming services). Save the Cat! Writes for TV takes you into that world and shows you how to become a part of it.
As with other books in the Save the Cat! (STC) series, Save the Cat! Writes for TV presents a structure to follow in creating your content. In this one, you start with the idea for a series, then come up with a pilot and storylines and ultimately a script. As with the other STC books, this one also uses beat sheets to structure your story.
What is a beat sheet? Well, a beat is a storytelling moment. There are 15 beats in a story/episode. These beats are the same no matter what medium you are writing in. To better understand how the beats work you can review the beat sheets in the book from pilots for several shows, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Stranger Things, Ozark, Grey’s Anatomy, The Mandalorian and others.
But wait, I can hear you say. If I follow the beats won’t I just be cranking out a formulaic piece of poo? Thank you for watching your language, but no. The STC structure makes sure you hit all the important parts of writing a compelling story. There is a lot of room within that structure to write something unique and all you.
To illustrate that point, read the section The Same But Different. It points out how many stories use many of the same elements but are unique. They are the same…but different. You know Rocky, right? Well consider these films:
- 8 Mile = Rocky raps.
- Cinderella Man = Rocky boxes in the 1930’s.
- Blades of Glory = Rocky figure skates.
- Rudy = Rocky plays college football.
- Pitch Perfect = Rocky sings.
You get the idea. These are all underdog stories. STC takes you through ten genres. These are not the genres you are used to seeing, though. They include Dude with a Problem, Golden Fleece, Monster in the House, Rites of Passage and six others.
STC Writes for TV uses the same elements and process as writing novels and movie screenplays, it addresses the aspects of writing for TV that are unique to broadcast and streaming shows. You learn about writing the pilot and creating a story arc over the course of a season. (No, you don’t have to write a season of scripts before you get started, but you do have to have an idea of where your show is headed.)
There is more demand for great television than ever before. If you have ever watched a show and thought, “I could to that!” this book is for you.