After the pilot episode

Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.


Jan 9, 2017
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Lahti, Finland
Dear All,
I have a [silly] question that boggles my head now and then and I hope you can help me out. My question is: do you write the second, third and so on episodes also after the pilot or just the pilot? What are the industry rules if the purpose is to sell the pilot. I mean should I write following episodes also or just pay attention to my pilot? Also, I'm wondering did Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) also wrote following episodes by himself only or were there other writers[team] involved? I am asking this because just wondering how writers handle every complex character to make it align with their story.

Many Thanks in advance and I'm sorry for asking too many things.

Best Regards, John

Plot Device

A woman said to write like a man.
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Apr 14, 2007
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Next to the dirigible docking station
Hi, I realise this reply of mine is 11 months later. But for what it's worth ....

If you are attempting to pitch a TV series to a production company, the general rule of thumb (although recently that rule has been allowed lots of leeway via the alternative distributors like Amazon and Netflix and YouTube, etc) is that the production companty wants you to pretty much guarantee that there will be no less than three seasons (three years) worth of story fodder.

That said, if you are lucky enough to get granted a pitch meeting, you need to tell them during the meeting without lying that:

a) you have finished the pilot episode
b) you have extensive character profiles written out for all the main characters
c) you have the very generous beginnings of a concordance for the "world" you are hoping to build (A concordance is almost like an encyclopedia or a master-Wiki for all the characters, place names, specialized vehicles, items, and props, etc that will be in the series. It's usually in alphabetical order, and each entry will be a brief, encyclopedia-like article stating matter-of-factly who a character is, or else what that restaurant is, etc. And if it's a fantasy/sci-fi series you are pitching, this concordance will include the names of planets, of kingdoms, of non-human species, of magcial amulets, etc. A concordance keeps growing in size with each new epsiode because new characters and place names get added all the time, and also it grows when older entries get updated with new information on established characters. A concordance for a TV show is very useful to help uphold story continuity and character continuity because it allows new writers to come on staff and be able to look up stuff on certain characters that they will be wrirting about, and allows the writing team to stay true to the character according to what the condordance says,)
d) you have outlined the intended story paths for the first three seasons of the show.
e) you have very detailed and indepth outlines for the first 5 regular episodes that you intend to come after the pilot episode.

The thing here is that if they like your series pitch and decide to give it a green light, they might just change all kinds of stuff around and you won't be able to stop them. They might even tell you they want the series but don't want you to be part of it, and then they will hire their own staff and showrunner to be the writers.

What they ultimately want is a good head start. You don't need to have the first three or first five episodes completed, although that wouldn't hurt. But definitely complete the pilot, and also show them your three-year outline which promises three or more years of meaty story.
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