So, you want to write for TV? Well, start writing. You've got
no time to waste.
You need at least one spec script (a script written for a
particular program) to show for yourself, and two is better.
It's okay to write with a friend, as long as all your
writings are with the same friend, and you plan to seek
There are only a handful of viable shows to write for in any
given year, so choose your target carefully. A viable show is
one that is popular enough that most people have seen it a
couple times, but one that hasn't been around so long that
television execs are sick of it. Examples for the 1999-2000
season include "Everybody Loves Raymond," "King of the Hill,"
"Ally McBeal," or "The Practice."
The script has to be formatted properly, and follow the
design of the show. If the show you're writing for always has
a scene in which every character appears, your spec needs to
have one, too. If the show you're writing for consistently
has one major plot and two minor plots, well, that's what
your spec should have. The best way to grasp a show's
formatting is to read several scripts. These can be found at
the Writer's Guild of America in Los Angeles, or if your
local university has a cinema program, the library may have
In addition to spec teleplays, many television producers
like to read an original piece-this can be a screenplay, a
pilot teleplay, or a stage play. And, of course, it doesn't
hurt if the stage play gets staged and reviewed. A book of
sketch comedy pieces is another acceptable writing
Unfortunately, writing your samples is less than half the
battle. According to the Writers Guild of America, there are
only about 1,200 writing positions in prime-time television,
and the industry prefers insiders to newcomers. In a good
year, 120 new writers may receive staff positions. In a bad
year, the number can run as low as 50 or 60.
Most agents will not read unsolicited materials, and without
an agent, you can't get hired. If you aren't loaded with
connections, network by nabbing any television job you can
get your hands on. Keep in mind that television hiring takes
place from April to June each year, and a number of
mid-season positions open up between December and