Idea Power & Creating TV Pitches That Sell…

A TV series does not come into existence without it first being an “idea” compelling enough to drive the entire development, production and marketing process. This article helps new writers and producers understand how to create, write and pitch TV show ideas that can sell as a new TV series. We’ll talk about creating original TV show ideas, how to communicate them in a written pitch treatment, and where to pitch a TV show.

Ideas open doors, fuel the development process, and ultimately connect with viewers. It is that core concept or “idea” a new writer or producer pitches that inspires a production company to dedicate resources for developing it. When that idea moves to the network or studio level, often with a “proof of concept” pitch reel produced, it is still that core “idea” that drives the project’s potential as development executives must communicate compelling details efficiently with their bosses, and so on up the ladder. Ideas are the life blood of our industry.

…It’s all about the beginning of the process, the idea stage. – Rod Perth, CEO NATPE (National Association Television Program Executives).

It is indisputable that ideas sell. That’s why services like the TV Writers Vault deliver such an important piece of the puzzle for our industry. Having a marketplace where ordinary people with extraordinary ideas can have their pitches scouted by a large number of industry buyers is the direct connection that both the creator and the industry needs. Because for both sides, it takes A LOT of projects to find those few gems that can go the distance.

Check out the TV Writers Vault, our industry online platform for pitching and selling TV Show Ideas:

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing new talent, some who’ve never pitched before in their life, come face-to-face with top decision makers in film and television for a true shot at getting their big break. I’ve been on both sides of the table, and love the entire process. So how does having a TV show idea get you a deal, and ultimately a TV show produced? Let’s first talk about creating TV show ideas that are more viable for selling.

…what producers reading any pitch treatment need to understand, is what we’re specifically, potentially watching unfold.

Each genre has its own fundamentals.  Reality TV Show concepts have critical elements like casting, or access to a unique world, lifestyle, or business. Game shows are all about format. TV Drama Series are all about the character’s plight within the world they inhabit. But what producers reading any pitch treatment need to understand, is what we’re specifically, potentially watching unfold. “What are we actually watching?” is the question both creators and producers face when the network executive polarizes a pitch. They’re experts in “seeing” the show you’re describing. So don’t sell them. Tell them! Many new writers or producers get stuck “selling” the concept with too much pre-amble, and justifying “why” they think the show would be entertaining, without ever getting into real specifics of what the producers would specifically be covering in a sample episode, and over the arc of a season.

When your pitch connects with a producer and they want to commit their resources to develop and sell your show to a Network, they first must secure your project with an Option Agreement so they have the exclusive right to sell and produce the show. In such a deal you’re giving the production company a limited time period of exclusive rights, typically 12 months. During that time they may shoot a sizzle reel or “proof of concept” tape to present to networks. If they have close ties with executives at networks that are ideal for your project, they’ll most often “pre pitch” the show to see if there’s any preliminary interest. Then if they do have interest at a Studio or Network, they may get financial backing from the network to produce a pilot. Cable Networks operate in a very fast process, and often order shows quickly to series if they believe in the project. Another benefit of pitching shows for cable is that they’ll often order in bulk if the first run gets good ratings. 40-50 episodes a year is common for a hit cable reality series. As a creator and producer, even in a passive capacity if you’re new to the game, there’s a tremendous amount of financial reward if a series gains momentum. You can expect on-screen credit, per episode fees, and participation in licensing. Read Deal Points When Selling a TV Show Idea for more insight.

To find that opportunity, it’s important to understand that every idea for a TV show has its own potential. You can’t make a mediocre concept great. It must have the right combination of compelling factors that together deliver a story and show that draws viewers in. If you believe you have a concept that is unique, even if you believe its a “no brainer, slam-dunk, next Gold Rush”, you still must market your project to a variety of producers and executives to find the one right connection. The process can be very subjective, and challenging.

Having a keen sensibility for what is entertaining will also increase the odds of crafting the right project that will connect. Even-so, its a numbers game in the way that the more pitches you work on, the better you’ll become at identifying, conceiving and honing TV show ideas that can sell. If you operate your own creative pursuits in the same manner that a production company does (having many projects on slate) then you’re in a better position to actually build a career because you’re developing many ideas and projects, finding the one(s) that connect, and getting offers from top tier companies who like what you bring to the table. The tangible “proprietary” element you bring in a pitch may be access to a certain world or subject. It may be the quirky business you operate and the process we can witness. It may be an ingenious game format you invent that is both hilarious to watch and stimulating to participate in. The intangible, and invaluable that any successful TV executive has, as well as any successful writer, is a sense for what is entertaining for others watching. Being objective in a subjective process isn’t easy. It also happens to be the friction that fuels the whole process in Hollywood.

“Hollywood is built on the power of “idea”, and television has been the most rapidly evolving platform for ideas to be produced through storytelling and formats.”

Hollywood is a machine constantly on the search for new ideas to help reinvent itself and bring a fresh form of entertainment to viewers. If you think being an outsider of Hollywood makes it impossible to sell an idea that will be produced, I know first hand that’s not true. In my first year as a development executive at Merv Griffin Entertainment, I brought in a concept created by a journalist in Florida. The idea was written up in a one-page outline, and explored the simple idea- “How far will an ordinary person go to help a stranger in need?” Our producers immediately saw the potential for comedy and entertainment value. Merv signed the creator to an option deal, we took it out to networks the next day, pitched it as “Pay It Forward meets Candid Camera”, and the project was sold on our first pitch to Disney’s Buena Vista TV.

After one of the development meetings with Disney Execs Karen Glass and Holly Jacobs at our offices, I was walking them down the long hall leaving the Griffin Group offices and Holly asked, “So who came up with this idea?” So I told her, “Some guy in Florida”. She smiled and said,”I love when that happens“. That was the lightning bolt that convinced me the industry needed an online marketplace to connect “idea people” with buyer’s like Karen and Holly (formerly of Disney/Buena Vista). The TV Writers Vault was born shortly after, and I’ve spent the years educating new creatives on the process of creating and pitching TV show ideas. Seeing countless new writers and producers land deals, with many shows making it to air, I still always come back to the fundamentals for any idea to capture the confidence of a buyer. So lets dive in to a bit of nuts-n-bolts on how to pitch a TV show idea.


How To Pitch A TV Show: Creating The Pitch In 5 Steps

Step 1 – Create Your Core Idea

This is the “Aha!” moment when you can “see” what you believe is most entertaining about your show.  The first task is to break down what you believe the essence of the show is. This is the first time of many that you should ask yourself, “what are we actually, specifically, watching?”. . Assuming it’s orginal, and you believe the various components of the show will result in entertaining content, ask yourself the following questions: Have we seen this subject/story before? Is it ideal for more than one network? Does it have a title that provokes interest and is marketable? If it’s reality-based, is the format for each episode unique enough to deliver original content? If it’s a scripted series, do the characters and main story components collide in conflict to fuel longevity for the series?


Step 2 – Research for Originality

While most TV shows are derivative of past shows, you must be certain that your unique approach to your concept delivers something totally new. The internet allows you to research if specific subjects or stories have been developed into TV shows, along with watching enough programming to be up on what’s being produced. Talk to others close to you for their reaction to your idea. You’ll get a quick sense as to whether or not your seed of an idea is as great as you think it is.

Step 3 – Create A Clever Title

TV is a title driven medium. Simple, powerful, captivating titles work best. A twist of familiar phrase, making your title a play on words is a good approach.


Step 4 – Craft A Captivating Logline (The short pitch)

Whether you’re pitching casually at a coffee shop, in a room full of executives, or to a pitch panel at a film festival, you want to have a very clear Logline that communicates your core concept. A “Logline” is a one or two sentence description that tells the basic idea and purpose of a show. Loglines for the sake of pitching a project are similar to a TV Guide description, but more specific in describing the idea of the show. This is the catalyst for increasing the odds of selling any script or TV show idea. It’s the short pitch that boils your story or concept down to its core essence. For film, a logline most often gives the unique premise (the set up) along with the main character’s extraordinary agenda. The same applies to television, except you may be dealing with a different genre like a reality docu-series where you’ll want to describe the unique world or subject we’d be covering, and the plight of the person(s) involved that we’re following. I’ve always known the logline to be the true test of a project’s potential. It really tests the writer to see if they know their project well, and more often than not, if you can’t create a strong logline, then the idea itself isn’t strong enough. The idea is the anchor for all that happens in the show. Its the reason for the rhyme. A great logline should provoke interest and inspire the TV producer, and ultimately viewers, to see its potential. The following are examples of could-be loglines for popular television shows:

“A music mogul fights for the future of his business as ex-wife and sons each aspire and conspire to become the next heir apparent to his empire” – Empire

“A most wanted fugitive collaborates with an FBI profiler to bring down criminals and terrorists” – The Blacklist

“A gregarious and likable Chef travels the backroads of America to sample road food from all corners and cultures of our country” – Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives

“A domineering dance instructor goes toe to toe with overbearing mothers, as she leads her young dance students to competitions” – Dance Moms

“An ex-Navy Chef attempts to revive struggling restaurants in just two days on a limited budget.” – Restaurant: Impossible

“A Madison Avenue marketing genius tries to escape his past while navigating the boardroom and bedrooms of 1960’s New York City.” – MadMen

“A small time crook has an epiphany and decides to revisit his past to right each of his wrongs” – My Name Is Earl

“Couples compete for cash as they gamble by chance and trivia played out on a giant pachinko-inspired wall where money is won and lost” – The Wall


Step 5 – Write A Detailed Synopsis

Executives need to have a clear road map for understanding what your show is, its core concept, and what we’re potentially watching as it unfolds. The written page is also the piece of Intellectual Property that establishes what you’re pitching, and what they’ve been exposed to. There is no way around it- You need to have a written pitch.

The Synopsis written should carry us through the most interesting and critical moments in your show. Describe the premise, the circumstance, the progression of story in clear beats, with any key ultimatums or challenges faced. The craft of turning a clever phrase takes talent and time. But one of the most important aspects of writing a pitch synopsis is the skill of using efficiency. Can your page be condensed to a paragraph? Can your paragraph be communicated in one sentence? Executives and Producer do a ton of reading, and you don’t want them to get bogged down, but the real reason for writing efficiently is to carry the reader along briskly, so one moment fuels the next, and the next moment has evolved into something greater, and so on.

You can find some great insight on creating and pitching reality TV show ideas at “How To Pitch A TV Show Idea“.

If you’re pitching a TV Show idea for a scripted series, or a pilot script, check out “How To Pitch A TV Show Pilot Script“.

Curious about landing an Agent in TV or Film? Be sure you read this clever article at the TV Writers Vault: “Getting An Agent for TV or Film – The Catch 22 Is On You

Insider Advice:

Make Strong Choices

Audiences arrive to watch movies and shows with a willing suspension of disbelief. They want to believe in your story, and connect with it. Its your opportunity as the Writer/Creator to make strong choices in any aspect of your story or concept. They want a heightened, or intensified reality, and there’s a few ways to get there when you’re developing your story. Create an ironic premise, but with a very plausible setup. This propels the story, giving the main characters a lot to work with. Give your main character a very unique challenge, and in their journey they encounter things that test their resolve, and sometimes change the course of their agenda, so ultimately we see them grow as a person. How that’s done is up to you, the creator.

Talent lies in the choices made by the artist, so make strong, unexpected, beautiful choices. It will resonate through every facet of your story, and connect with buyers hearing your pitch.

Get Inspired:

Look at your life and the world around you to find fresh and compelling stories and subjects. If you roll up your sleeves and dedicate yourself to the workHealth Fitness Articles, you just might sell the next groundbreaking idea for a TV show to Hollywood.

Where To Pitch A TV Show:

Technology and tenacity will deliver great results for your pitch. Check out some of the resources below that have proven to launch careers for new writers and producers…

The TV Industry Online –

To pitch your TV show idea, visit the TV Writers Vault marketplace for more insider advice and direct exposure to the television industry’s top buyers…

Screenwriting Competitions:

TRUTH BE TOLD: Hollywood’s Non-Fiction Story & Screenwriting Competition

Markets and Festivals (Rubbing Elbows!):

Coming Soon!

69 thoughts on “How To Pitch A TV Show

  1. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for sharing and educating so well. This has answered every question I had with regard to selling an idea for a new tv show. Your article is packed with everything a person needs to know to pursue their ideas or stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Thanks Suzanne! I’m glad youre enjoying learning more about pitching ideas and projects in TV. Happy to provide any insight any time you need. I’ll be posting more soon.


      1. Anthony Taylor says:

        Hello Scott- This article was very helpful. My name is Anthony Taylor my partner is Veronica Finnegan. We work with BET as consultaing producers of our hip hop game show call Hip Hopportunity. We worked very close with Rick Grimes, VP of 106 Park. We’re just trying to reach out to you and send you a one sheet on our TV game show idea.
        Anthony/ Veronica

        Liked by 1 person

      2. scott manville says:

        Hi Anthony-
        I love the title. The next challenge is to create a format that supports it, and delivers reliable entertainment value with each episode. That’s how you’ll make it ripe for syndication. The details of format is also where you’ll establish your copyright. If you’re feeling strong about the idea, and you work it out to a point of it being ready for market, the TV Writers Vault has a lot of producers who scout new ideas for TV game shows. We’re also promoting the first crowd sourcing contest set to discover the the Next Hit Game Show idea and format, and have senior executives from NBC Universal and others on panel to judge and consider the finalists. Best of luck to you!


    2. kinspire says:

      This was an excellent blog/post! Straight and to the point. Thank you for posting as I am an emerging author with a series (three part novel) I am looking to pitch to Lifetime and Own.

      I am wondering if a membership to the Writers Vault would be feasible.

      Thanks again



      1. scott manville says:

        Hi Kathy-
        Thanks for the kind words. Yes, many of the executives using the TV Writers Vault scout books for adaptation.


  2. Amanda Byrd says:

    Hi Scott-
    I love the anecdotes, and love even more what youve done for new producers and creators. My question is about pitching in the room to a buyer. Quick backstory; I wrote a pitch for a docu reality series centered on my family’s business, pitched it, had two producers interested, discussions with both, now one is following through and bringing me in for a meeting with their development team. They havent put across an option proposal yet. Whats my goal in the meeting, and what should I expect to accomplish so I can get an offer for the project?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Amanda-

      Great job on pitching your docu reality series and getting two producers interested. I’m assuming your written pitch detailed a lot about the world you’re pitching (your family’s business) so they already understand much of what the show would focus on, but the next step is getting eyes on your world, and coverage of your family. Having you come in for a meeting is great. You should have confidence that their team has been briefed, but be prepared to walk them through the pitch again. Most likely the executive will have very specific questions and will want to get some coverage on tape of your family, which they’ve probably already asked you for. Its also an opportunity for them to get a feel for your personality- how you think and communicate. Bring in any media you can… video coverage of the business, locale, people involved, etc. And also be ready to get some of your family on a skype call. A TV producer will love experiencing the potential cast involved, and sharing stories about your family and the business is of course important, but really try to balance it with a forward focus by sharing specific events or challenges that are coming up, or that your family is in the middle of. Any producer in reality TV needs to know what they’ll be able to cover in the short run, as well as long term.

      As for the larger agenda of the meeting, if they conclude by saying they’re going to send a deal proposal, that’s terrific. But if its still open ended and they want to see coverage with video, that’s normal, and just focus on establishing the relationship with them. The process is never quick and simple. But trust the process, and continue with other avenues. Its still your project until they settle a deal with you, so as long as you’re comfortable putting in the due diligence, and you think it benefits the project, then walk hand in hand with them. In the end, they’re the ones who will lose any sweat equity or consultation they’ve invested in your project without a deal. Be on time. Listen. And think like a producer if you see yourself developing other pitches. This may be just the first project you bring them, and you’ll want to have them as a go-to for future pitches.

      Best of luck! Let us all know how you do 🙂


      1. Lisa says:

        Hi Scott!
        I am a writer and Artistic Director of a small production company named Lux Royale Productions. We have a website and a YouTube channel. We are in the process of finishing our first film and we are working on a pilot. What are your suggestions in regards to film festivals and their content? Is this a good place to start.
        Lisa Bastian
        Artistic Director
        Lux Royale Productions


      2. scott manville says:

        Hi Lisa-
        Film Festivals are a great venue for both promoting your film through screenings if you’re an official selection, and for networking at the many events and mixers they often have. These days TV also serves the film industry as an outlet, so finding fans and executives to champion your project for TV can happen at film festivals. Some festivals offer categories for short films, screenplays, and other formats outside of narrative features. Check out to research and enter festivals that fit your project.


  3. bkgolden says:

    My pilot was awarded Silver in the TV Drama Pilot category of the PAGE Awards, and I’m pumped to have it listed on TV Writers Vault for a year as my prize.

    A quick question before I make the listing — what is the best place I can access samples of how others handled the Synopsis/Pitch Outline? Obviously, I know what a synopsis is, but I’d love to do the best research possible and what approach tends to work on your website. Thanks so much for your help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Brian!

      Congratulations on the Silver finish at PAGE Awards. They’re a great organization discovering great material for both Film and TV. I’m happy to hear you’ll be listing at the TV Writers Vault. Hopefully you’ll get connected with the right buyer.

      For a scripted series pitch (the “treatment”, not the full script) your main focus should be the main character and their world. People follow a series because of the main character’s plight, and the interesting world they happen to struggle in. We’re in a golden age for scripted series, so its very exciting that you’re going out with such. We’ve had several option deals for TV Dramas via our platform, and see in this new age of the drama series there’s a huge appetite for a more expansive, intensified, and character driven series set within extreme circumstances and worlds that are both fiction and non-fiction. “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, “Narcos”, “Mr. Robot”, “The Walking Dead”, “Orange Is The New Black”, “House of Cards”, “Game of Thrones”… They’ve given all of us a theatrical experience once only found in movies. They’re like a long twelve hour movie, really getting deep into character and shockingly ironic circumstances. So if you’re pitching a TV drama series in today’s market, here’s what I’d recommend you include:

      The Logline is key in describing the main character(s) circumstance and plight. Its two or three sentences that help the producer reading the pitch understand the core agenda of your unique character(s) and the compelling plight they face. If a producer believes in the logline, which is the core idea, then their minds will open and absorb the rest of your pitch, and hopefully, ultimately, your script.

      Describe the “World” your TV series takes place in. This is where you describe how interesting, relevant, or unique the setting for the series is.

      Character Outline is an important and fun part of the pitch. List your main character first, and then in order of importance. Detail how they relate, what the unique dynamics are, and interesting traits. Always keep in mind that you want to characters that create conflict. This is what fuels the storyline. On a more specific note… Look for the flaws in the “hero”, and the redeeming qualties in the “antagonist”. Nothing is black and white, and you want to humanize your characters. If a producer reading your pitch falls in love with a character and their extreme idiosyncrasies, it can go a long way.

      Detail a Pilot Outline that takes us through the broad beats of what would be the premiere episode. Don’t get bogged down in too much detail. The producer or executive wants to know the arc of the story and how that may propel our characters to conflict, and if interested will read the script to fill in the colorful detail. A good pilot episode sets up the main characters and storyline to continue with peculiar possibilities, making us want to tune in.

      Make strong choices with your characters and story, and you’ll hopefully have the ingredients for a new hit series. And at the very least, get they’ll want to read the script!


  4. Daniel Cosper says:

    Thanks for the honest insight of how to build a one sheet pitch. I caught myself for fun designing a few reality concepts but my one passion today is for “Red Carpet” a scripted project. Do I follow the same advice you offer for a reality show one sheet for a scripted project?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Daniel-
      Thanks for reaching out. Please read my response to Brian’s question above, which happens to detail exactly what you’re asking for. Best of luck with the pitch!


  5. Mark Rubenstein says:

    I have been working on and trying to “fine tune” my pitch. I know the beginning few episodes. I know the ending episodes. My problem is the middle part & not sure if I am just being too “detailed” in trying to get it to paper. How important is it to have specifics of EACH episode? I feel like I have “writers block” and stuck in the middle. What resources do I have that are able to clear the clouds to get over this stopping point? Is there a person able to collaborate with?

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Mark-

      I think many of us can understand the frustration of having to decide where to drill in to story detail in a treatment being pitched. You want two things; a detailed story outline of one episode (the pilot), and then write a broader outline that shows the story arc for a full season of the series so a producer or TV executive reading it can see how you plan the life of the characters and circumstances to play out. Pitching a scripted series is no quick process, but when you truly love the characters and the subject it explores, then it makes it easier to break through. Collaboration is always great. Sometimes singular visions serve best…But when a project involved a myriad of stories and plots and twists, you’re going to have much more fun brainstorming with another like-minded creative. Stage32 online is a great community to network and connect with other creatives.

      So to re-cap what you’ll need to pitch a scripted TV series, you’ll want to pen a clever TITLE, a LOGLINE that hits us with the main character’s plight and agenda, and a SYNOPSIS that gives us the premise of the series, the main characters’ descriptions, and brief description of the pilot storyline. Then PILOT OUTLINE with all the specific and critical beats that tell the story of what would be the 1st episode. Then an outline that gives us the broader storylines that we’ll see evolve over a full season.

      We’re in a great time for original series, so make strong choices… And when they fall in love with the world of characters you’ve created, then be sure to deliver a great pilot script.


      1. Mark Rubenstein says:

        Hi Scott,

        Thank you for the feedback. Let me state that the pitch I’ve been working on is not a scripted series based on a family or person, but is rather a judged “Competition/Reality” show where contestants are eliminated each week after completing or not completing a specified task.

        Do I need to describe the details of each week’s elimination until the final 3 episodes? Or am I thinking too much into this. I have the beginning 4 weeks and the last 3. Do I need to detail so the specifics of the episodes in the middle?

        If it was just a business or characters. I can see how your above advise would would work. But a judged competition reality show deals with a bit different challenges…. Or does it?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Xavier Lewis says:

    Hi Scott
    I found what you said about crafting the longline, and synopsis very helpful. One of my main concerns that I have is about when the excutive producers decide they do like my idea, and I sell it to them, will I still be able to be part of the show once it is on air? Would I be able to be a writer of the show? Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Xavier-

      When you’re pitching an idea for a series, and you’ve written a great pitch as a sales tool, what you should be hoping for is that a TV production company gets involved who has a history of producing shows for the networks, and the talent involved that is assigned to the production will bring to fruition all of the potential that was in your original idea. Your involvement in that process will be determined by who you are, and who they are. If you’ve never written or produced a show before, then most likely your involvement will be a bit more passive, with the showrunner, other producers, and writers hired taking the lead. But if you’ve written a script they fall in love with, and they see that you have a gift, and the right tone for the series, then they’d absolutely want you to be more hands on. Whether or not you’re at the writing table and in production meetings, with any sell of a TV show idea you would be tied in with a producer credit, some form of created by credit, per episode fees, and backend…assuming a fair deal is negotiated for you. Everything is negotiable, but deals don’t always close when unreasonable demands are made. You want to be protected and benefit financially, but you also want involvement in the development and production. It will be up to you and the producing company to negotiate the right balance.


  7. Mitch Poremba says:

    Read the last couple of comments, which go more in line with myself, I got some good insight from Scott and his website (he’s always been honest in emails to me), posted my loglines in the past and will do it again very soon within the next week or so. I’ve written 4 original TV pilot scripts (one comedy, family comedy/drama and 2 crime drama’s) and have ideas for 2 more, one which would be a hit with youths, I also have a couple of ways to retain viewers, but know the Studios will not listen to someone outside the Industry. It’s hard to see when articles are stating networks losing viewers yet 94 million out of work, one would think with good programs would increase viewers, but Hollywood is in a mode of more violence, keep trying the same thing hoping for different results.

    That’s why I still believe in posting with Scott’s website and one other (they send out mag’s with loglines to producers), Scott has a good “client” list, I had Disney look at one logline, they probably thought from the title it may be a animated idea. I tried a Pitch website, lot of production companies with track records for movies and tv, spent a lot of money, tried different loglines but got the same from all of them, “we already have it in production”, how can they all have what’s my head. Here’s my opinion, some of them if they see a interesting logline, might think up a idea for a show, because, and Scott, please correct anything I say, some of the big production companies and studios have writers on staff, I think it’s why we keep seeing the same kind of shows on TV, so studios will listen to these production companies that they have a track record with, but also, the studios will listen to actors and actresses that have ideas, they have been in series with good ratings, I believe 9 out of 10 fail, the studios will keep listening and developing those shows hoping one will catch on.

    I’ve tried contests, but I believe more in Scott’s website, I had my scripts come in fourth and sixth, but all those judging scripts are within Hollywood and set with the type of shows the studios are doing, I also realize I’m more of a creator and not a full time writer, but the one piece of advice for anyone developing a series for TV, think when writing it how it can maintain viewers, in other words, come up with ideas for the show to continue, because if any of us get a chance to sit down to explain our script, we need to talk of upcoming ideas for it. Like Scott says above, it shows everyone that there is serious thought behind the idea.

    So those writing original TV pilot scripts like me, it’s impossible to get notice with big production companies and studios having there own writing staffs along with actors/actresses pitching ideas to the studios, but I believe deep down that some of these production companies will look more and more to websites like Scott’s, and when a couple of TV scripts (non reality) hit, it will make it easier for us from outside of Hollywood. I also hoping that some day that they get away from reading just loglines and realize a couple more minutes to read a synopsis gives them more insight to a person’s idea and script, but that’s like wishing for Santa to bring me all the gifts on my list. Thanks Scott.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. scott manville says:

    Hi Mitch-

    Thanks for the thoughtful note, and your perspectives on pitching TV show ideas and scripts. I hear what you’re saying, and yes, frustration at the system that has turned out so many cookie cutter formulaic shows is valid. BUT we’re in one of the best times in ages to be pitching scripted projects. True life stories, books for adaptation, spec pilots exploring worlds and people we’ve not witnessed before are all viable, and thank goodness for Netflix and other platforms who’ve woken up the giants who now must scramble to find competitive content for their network primetime slate. I think we’re already seeing an improvement. But to speak to your issue of scripted development being a closed club with writing staffs etc. Yes, of course, those are the people who are extremely talented and highly experienced in delivering story and production. There’s a path and career that many follow from working as general assistants, to writers assistants, and on up as they prove their talent. But the world of story and properties that can be optioned, developed and produced is not exclusive to them. Its the great thing about our industry. In the car industry you can’t walk into ford motor company and say “you know what, I have a new design for a car, wanna produce it?”. But in TV and Film, the ideas and properties truly come from all corners of the country, and out of our own life experiences- Ideas that are truly groundbreaking, and truly entertaining to watch. Those are the stories and ideas they run to. Not generic stock ideas that aren’t fully developed, or that have already been explored fifty times over in the development hell of Hollywood. The producers deal with the same frustrations as they try to develop fresh material, but often getting turned down at the network level because “we already tried to develop that three years ago, and here’s why its not as entertaining as it sounds”. Assuming you have a story or format that is truly original and entertaining, the challenges you may face as the writer and creator can be getting it into the right form, having the talent to pen a mind-blowing spec script, knowing how to write a great pitch for your life story, or having access to a world, family, or business that becomes the setting for yet another hit docu-reality series. Networking to get your work known is always the challenge, and that’s just part of any competitive business. I do thank you for believing in the TV Writers Vault. Its helped many connect, and we’ve seen how amazing it is for the ones whose projects were discovered, developed, produced, and premiered on Television. Its a special thing to witness, and we’re in a special time with technology that fosters even more of that type of opportunity as the industry integrates with the Internet.


    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Patti-

      The first step is to develop your project with highly original facets (plot points, characters, format wrinkles, twists, etc. etc.) so that it isn’t just a stock idea. The unique and original expression of an idea is protected under copyright law. Register your written works to establish your date of creation prior to exposure in the marketplace or with any third party. Check out for online archival and copyright protection. NEVER send out unsolicited pitches. Network to build relations with producers or executives who may be open to taking your pitch, then follow up in email (written confirmation). If you use the TV Writers Vault you’ll have a record of activity or requests made by any company viewing your pitch, and the smart part is they’re the one scouting, so its not unsolicited.

      Also keep in mind that creating a concept or format for a TV show (reality, game show, or any genre) and copyrighting it doesn’t mean that you have a patent on it. Anyone can independently create by their own imagination the same concept as you. The task is getting it to the mountain top first. There is a collective consciousness in the creative community and media that naturally leads us all to certain subjects or types of projects that are in the same lane, so to speak. In any art form or craft, things are derived from things that preceded them. Take your ideas to the next level by challenging what we’re used to seeing, and create clever and entertaining facets that will deliver great content. That’s what networks want. Develop your pitch, get it out there, keep records, and push to get it shopped to appropriate networks.


    1. scott manville says:

      Hi John-

      Ensuring long term profitability? That’s a problem I hope you run into! 🙂 But the reality is its beyond your control. Assuming you set up your project for a TV show with a good production company, you’d be tied in a deal and riding on their coat tails. So you would hope that the show is ordered to series, gets good ratings, and additional installments are ordered. A network is most concerned with actual profitability if they’re putting up the budget, and they have to balance their revenue model. You can’t create from that perspective. Create from what is entertaining… then it has its own life, and own potential as a show that delivers ratings and rewards, or not.


    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Laura!
      I’m excited you’re working on a new TV game show idea. You may want to check out the two links below where I’ve written a bit on developing ideas for game shows, and when you’re ready, enter at this link. Just remember… Game shows need to be clever, but very clear. Don’t get bogged down in endless details that complicate and confuse the format. Be highly original, and really try to envision the game play to know if those key moments would be entertaining to watch (ultimatums, decisions, twists, etc.).

      Next Hit Game Show – Presented by the TV Writers Vault

      Creating Game Show Formats


  9. debnutall says:

    I have more than 8 pitches, I’ve posted 3 on your site and received instant notification from 2 studios requesting additional information. My biggest problem is that I need help with my Loglines and character development. My pitches are docu-reality, I’ve signed several celebrity chefs, I have a well known jazz artist, along with several other talent ready to proceed. I’m looking to partner with someone to assist with Loglines. One of the studio executives that I met via your site is very interested in one of my pitches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Deb-
      That’s great you have some producers in play with your pitches. Loglines can be the most important factor for your project to find traction and keep momentum in the development process. Its the shorthand and short-pitch that TV development executives and producers fall in love with, and ultimately morphs into the message networks use to grab an audience. Loglines should be clever but clear. Feel free to email me using a support ticket link at the TV Writers Vault and I’ll be happy to give you some more specific guidance. I don’t want you to post your loglines in this open forum. You can also read a bit at this link. Thanks, and good luck with your pitches!


    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Vanessa-

      It depends on the format. A half hour sitcom is 22 pages. Hour long is probably 50 pages.
      Keep in mind that dialogue moves quickly, so if your script is heavy in dialogue (ala Aaron Sorkin) it may have more pages while not running longer in actual time. Sorkin wrote a feature narrative draft that was almost 300 pages (300 minutes?!!), but in a read through ran under two hours because he’s big on fast snappy dialogue, and that fills pages.

      More important than playing by the rules with page length…make sure what is on those pages is so compelling and clever that they’re left hungry when there’s no more pages to turn.



  10. lizeka tonjeni says:

    Hi Scott

    Thank you for this wealth of information. I live in South Africa, and have no formal education in this industry, but have great interest. Reading your article is my first attempt at educating myself and it was indeed mind blowing. What I would like to find out is if the TV Writers Vault is accessible to foreigners to submit their ideas. I am also looking forward to reading more of your articles as I prepare to contribute to the industry.

    Kind Regards
    Lizeka Tonjeni
    Pretoria (South Africa)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Lizeka-

      I’m so happy that you’re enjoying some of the insight shared. Yes, we have many creatives and producers from around the globe using our service to scout new ideas for television shows. Keep in mind that buyers are focused on the market that they sell to, which for the most part is U.S. programming. Many of the TV shows discovered at the TV Writers Vault have been broadcast globally (Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands, South Pacific), so they do look for international appeal… But, I would recommend that you focus on the world that you know most, that others haven’t or can’t experience. This may be your life story, or a documentary series that explores an experience or process you understand, or a format that ties to your world but also connects to, or resonates with the rest of the world. Don’t try to serve the “U.S. Audience” by creating what you think is a typically viable concept for U.S. programming. Surprise us. Bring us to a new place.

      Let me know when you’re ready to get your pitch into our marketplace and I’ll help you get set up.
      Thanks for reaching out, and Happy New Year!

      Yours Truly,


  11. Anthony McBride says:

    I’ve never pitched a TV series before… only film. In film, I understand that producers will ask “What else do you have”, meaning that a screenwriter should have a good 2-3 scripts. Is this the same for television?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Anthony-
      Yes, a large part of a production company engaging you with a scripted series is believing you are a talent able to drive the creative process at least from the inception of pilot through development. But I say that only for the genres of scripted TV series, not unscripted reality series ideas. Having spec scripts of current series is great, as well as being able to expand on the life of the series you’re pitching when in discussions with your executive at the company. And when you engage a company with a project, and it finds traction, they’re only going to want more from you…so have more!


  12. Marck Berotte says:

    Hi Scott- I want to thank you for this article as it makes clear a lot of thing I didn’t understand before. I have a question… I want to know if there is some common criterion for TV producers to review our projects at the TV Writers Vault.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Marck-
      Every TV Producer or Network Executive has their own mandate and variety of factors that influence what they look for, and what they like when they see it. If I’m to answer your question, it’d have to be in generalities. They’re looking for concepts and content that hasn’t been seen before in a TV series. They like titles and loglines that are highly marketable. True stories, or TV Series Scripts and Concepts that are rooted in truth always get more attention. In the end, even the most sophisticated development executive or producer will say the same. We’re dealing in a craft and world of ideas, so your sensibility for what is entertaining is the most important factor. On the technical side, they want to read a great title, a logline that tells and sells the core idea, a synopsis or format outline that shows us what we’re potentially watching in the series, and depending on the genre…a script that helps them believe you’re as talented as the idea is great.


      1. Alec Broske says:

        Really great stuff Scott! Seeing you respond and helping all of us just keeps me inspired! Thank you!


    1. scott manville says:

      Aww that lovely four letter word. Thanks for the sweet message.
      If you have any specific questions on how to pitch and sell a TV show idea, I’m happy to engage.


  13. Oforma Adaeze says:

    I found deep insight from this article. I’m working on a home makeover TV Series and being new to the industry has been challenging. However, this article has given me a good sense of direction. Thanks!


    1. scott manville says:

      Thank you, Oforma.
      Keep in mind the home makeover arena relies heavily on talent/casting. There may be fifty different approaches to home makeovers, but none will be interesting to watch if its not built around the right talent (developer, craftsman, crew, designer, etc.). Good luck and have fun!


  14. Brian Baron says:

    Hello Scott – I posted two show ideas on The Writers Vault page. I am wondering if I rewrite my pitches would that attract more views? I have had one reviewed so far but would like to have more views to hear feed back regarding my pitches, to hear if I am going in the right direction regarding them.

    Thank You
    Brian Baron

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Brian-
      Thank you for using our platform to pitch. Getting real feedback from executives who are scouting project typically only happens when you’re in a face to face meeting, OR when the industry executives involved are actually being PAID to do so, which many sites do, and actually undermines the authenticity of their service. But you can find many services on the net that provide reviews from “experts”. Ours is a real marketplace that reflects the real process. That means it’s a process of subjectivity. TV Producers don’t have time to give feedback on projects they’re not interested in. It’s nothing personal, just the way they must prioritize their time in a highly competitive industry. Producers know what they like when they see it in a pitch, and usually act quickly if they’re interested. They can immediately request contact, and our system puts you both in direct contact for discussion or deal proposal. So, to answer your question, rewriting can always help if the person doing the writing is a professional in the specific genre. I’ve been writing pitches that have sold many times for many years, and the main purpose of any pitch is to efficiently communicate the potential content and entertainment value of the TV show or film. To know if it will then change the mind of an executive who previously had no interest in the premise is impossible to answer. BUT, having good development and pitch writing absolutely increases the odds of the right producer seeing the value in the show. They then decide if it’s right for them, and if it’s something they want to pursue.


  15. Alec Broske says:

    What should the language be like when writing the pitch? Should I be writing an English paper or should I be toning down my language and just keep it simple?


    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Alec-
      Thanks for the question. Sometimes a writer can be their own worst enemy, especially when writing pitches for TV. You really want to make sure you don’t get too wordy, or have too much expository information and descriptions. I’m at fault for this in my own writing all the time. I do my best to hone things down so the idea or message doesn’t get lost when too many words bore the reader. That page you just wrote? Make it a paragraph. That paragraph? Make it a sentence. If you can do that, then odds are the core idea is good, and the reader will be carried along in a brisk manner that leaves them inspired. It also allows them to “see” the potential idea more clearly when they’re not bogged down in writing that oversells it. Hope that helps.


  16. Jacqueline Pewitt says:

    Hi Scott. My name is Jacqueline Pewitt and I’m wowed right now on all this unbelievable info you’re giving. I had an idea for a reality show about 7 or 8 years ago & didn’t know how to get it to anyone. Well, last year Bravo came out with a series similar to what my idea was, but not as great as mine. Well, that set me off on the search & I found your site. Do you think I still stand a chance of moving forward with my idea because there are some similarities with the other show on Bravo, but there are a lot of differences too? By the way, I don’t think that show is coming back on. Thanks Scott.


    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Jacqueline-
      It’s impossible to know without understanding exactly what your format and content is. In general, you don’t want to go out with a concept that just failed as a series. But everything is derivative at some level, so you have to ask yourself a few questions; Is my approach to the subject more compelling? Is there some new component to my show that brings it to a newer, better level? Is there a competing network with similar programming that may be more likely to look at my pitch as being fresh? Any time you go out with a pitch, you cannot have any doubt that your TV project is something they haven’t seen before, and that the premise and angle on the subject will captivate them in the first few lines of the pitch spoken or written. Thanks!


  17. Kimberly says:

    Hello, My name is Kimberly. I have a True story that needs to be made in to a movie. I am not a writer or a producer or a director. What I am is a researcher who researched her Dads side of the Family that I did not know well. If at all… From all my research I uncovered a Hornets nest full of Family secrets. Some things are better left unknown trust me. I uncovered my Uncle and my Dad were involved in not one but two cold cases that are very well known and still unsolved(or so they say).. today. These 2 cases are from the Bay area in San Francisco, CA. from the 1960’s. The story needs to be told and like I said,. I am not a writer. So what can I do..? Or what’s the best way to tackle something like this..? Thnx 🙂


    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Kimberly-
      There’s no greater drama than true life drama…often stranger than fiction, indeed!
      Thank you for sharing your story. Don’t count yourself out as a Writer so quickly. Knowing a story intimately gives you a pure connection to the nuance that brings the story to life. Of course there’s a lot of other aspects to writing, but if you’re simply putting together a pitch treatment, you really need to make the effort to pen it, since you know it best. It needs a linear narrative… a beginning, middle, and end. A Writers talent is in the choices made for that. How it’s told. Often a book can find more traction for true stories because it’s a tangible property that Producers can work from. Maybe you can write an article, get it published, and then shop that for an option with the right company. Also remember, just because some aspect of a story is true doesn’t mean it translates well to screen. You’re going to have to “kill your darlings” when you finally sculpt your story.


  18. marckberotte says:

    Hi Scott – My name is Marck, I’m 19, and just wanted to first thank you for all of these excellent tips that you share on your blog for all of us. I’ve read them several times during the past few months, and thanks to them I have succeeded in achieving something really wonderful. I’m aware that the TV and Film industry is extremely demanding nowadays, and that the chances for a 19 year old to make his way through all off this is difficult, but I am still very satisfied and proud of my work. In addition, we never know…everything can happen when we trust. No matter, I encourage you to continue what you do because just as your work has helped me to expand my abilities, I am sure that it will help many others just like me. Writing, creating and developing ideas is something fun, but it gets so much more interesting when you know the right way to do it, and that’s exactly what you gave me. I promise you that if someday I succeed in the entertainment industry, I will not forget to mention the one who gave me my first advice and allowed me to start on my path in the right way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hi Marck-
      Thanks for the very kind words. You’ve got the right attitude, and I applaud your determination in pursuing writing and pitching.
      You mentioned “everything can happen when we trust”. You’re exactly right. Too many people by nature don’t trust. They don’t trust themselves. They don’t trust others. They don’t trust what life puts before them. I’ve learned in this business, and in my personal life, when you give trust, you get trust. You connect. You have to open up and put forth your work in order for it to have any chance. Keep focused, and make sure you write and create every day. Feel free to reach out here any time you need advice or guidance. And remember, storytelling should be fun! So have fun!


  19. Rachelle Tenace says:

    Hi Scott,
    The world is so full of negativity and many people are searching for something more uplifting and inspirational. It is my hope that networks will tap into this genre. At this point, I feel it is totally underrepresented in the marketplace. In my opinion, people are becoming disgruntled with typical show ideas and searching for something to take them away from all of life’s troubles.

    “Chef’s Table” on Netflix is a perfect example of something a bit different, inspiring and beautiful all at the same time. “Undercover Boss” is a great ‘feel good’ type of show and “Abstract: The Art of Design” is another Netflix program which is interesting and compelling to watch.

    I have an idea for a docu-reality show, called [title redacted], (which I have submitted on TV Writers Vault) which I hope will inspire others to follow their passion. [show description redacted].

    I, myself, have come to a point in my life, after the breakup of my marriage to my soul mate where I would like to find my true self again and inspire others with this show. The show idea came from my own feelings of loss and the show itself is not only highlights a physical journey but a spiritual one as well. I have had many, many experiences where the ‘laws of attraction’ have guided and helped me in so many ways. [show description redacted].

    I am in the process of having a “trailer” produced with some local filmmakers and wondered how to get it out there? Most production companies don’t want solicitations from joe blow on the street, so other than your company, how does my idea get to the right production company? I feel that my show idea is well suited to HGTV, The Travel Channel, Discovery Channel or possibly even for Netflix, as they are already exploring new and diverse content.

    Any tips would help immensely!
    Love your site and have had Atlas Media Corp., Neon TV and Buck Productions review my idea so far! Fingers crossed!

    Rachelle Tenace

    Liked by 1 person

    1. scott manville says:

      Hello Rachelle-
      Thank you for the thoughtful note, and for sharing your passion for pitching inspiring shows for television. To answer your question about sizzle reels or pitch reels, it’s always great to have visual proof-of-concept, though one really needs to be careful, because a reel that comes off as low-quality can actually hurt the project’s potential by turning off the producer or executive viewing it. But if you do have some good content on tape that helps support your great concept, then you’ll want to get eyes on it. At the TV Writers Vault you can simply embed your link to wherever you host your reel, and any producer reviewing your pitch can click and view.

      Networking to find direct contacts is a large part of any marketing push a Writer/Creator or Filmmaker must have. Go to film festivals where companies are often on panel, and other professionals are there to rub elbows with new creatives and producers. There are also a few terrific TV conferences like “RealScreen Summit” and “Natpe” that are a convergence of buyers and creators.


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