Pitch Document Formula For Pilots

by on Jul.26, 2017, under Featured, Motivation



Start your pitch off with passion. Tell them what inspired your story. If there is a link with a personal story that you have that connects to the concept and establishes that you are the perfect writer for this pitch, use it here.



What is the world of your concept? What is the time period? Is there a wish fulfillment element? Bring it all to life here.



Use the formula set up of who (create empathy) dilemma, action, goal with a twist of irony.


*The purpose of sharing your series log line is to give your audience a general idea of what your show is.



Give a log line for the A story. This tells your audience how you are going to enter the world through the central character in your A story.



Give a few lines about your central character. Tell us about your character through showing his/her personality in a situation.



Tell your story in a way that your audience can visualize your powerful opening or a compelling climax. If you pitch your Teaser, give a strong sense of your opening dilemma. What is the thematic question going out of your opening? How is your series an answer to this question?







If there are 2-3 other central characters, give one or two lines about them. You just want to define their characters. Do not give a paragraph/paragraphs on each of your characters; you will lose your audience. Give a strong sense of your character dynamics.


Think about my exercise Log Line For Your Life and write one for each of your characters.  Remember to think, what is the wound that is driving my central character? What is the flaw that gets in the way? How does the pursuit heal the wound?



What are some of the themes that you plan to use in your pilot and your series?

In this section, you want to give your audience a universal sense of your concept.



            What we will see week to week in your series? Make it clear that you have a             strong engine for story.



Loop back around to what inspired your show, why you think now is a good time for it and any last tidbits that will excite them about your concept and make them feel your passion



Copyright© 2016 – Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc. This material is for the sole purpose of the Storywise© Teleseminar. Please do not forward, copy or distribute this material.


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by on Nov.22, 2016, under Motivation, Personal tips

When story gives true service, it takes us to a new level of consciousness and enlightenment and makes us feel very deeply. I have a hunger for this type of story. I am always on a quest for it. Take me inside a world from an angle that I haven’t experienced and make me feel like I am living in the worldview of the character/characters. This is what I discovered while watching the new Netflix show, The Crown.

Many of us in the entertainment community have recently gone through a shift or what many believe to be an “all is lost” moment. The best way to move through this type of experience is to express, heal and feel. Story is the place to do this. When story serves, it’s as if it understands what we are going through and it delivers it to us in a way that helps us to forget our own problems and buy into the world of imagination of another time and place. Oddly, this world has very strong parallels with what we just experienced with one meteoric rise to power.

The Crown took me into a world and made me feel like I was living it through the eyes of Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill. This is such a significant relationship in our history. To see it brought to life and delved into in a major way is absolutely spellbinding. Peter Morgan wrote this. He is a pure genius. He takes us into several different angles of relationship dynamics that ground and enthrall the viewer with this moment in time.

It starts with the King’s illness and the building of a beautiful relationship between him and his daughter, Elizabeth. We see how Elizabeth is being groomed but there is no warning at how quickly it will all happen. We feel what the King is going through. There is a moment when Elizabeth’s daughter gives him a King’s crown for a gift at the Christmas party at a time when he knows he’s sick. He reaches down for her hand as he gets choked up. I love these little moments that have so much emotion and meaning.

With Winston and Queen Elizabeth, we see how they need one another in their monumental roles. We feel their friendship and their loyalty. We feel the depth of the betrayal when Winston fails to tell Queen Elizabeth about his health and thus causes significant danger to her part in leading the nation. We feel the pain of letting go of a time that once was. We connect with what it is to have to let the younger generation take the reigns.

When I started working for Aaron Spelling, he was 69 and I was 24. He was bigger than life in my eyes. So, I could completely connect with this relationship dynamic and the understanding and admiration of an icon.

One of the many, many things that I love about this series is Morton’s exploration into the title versus the person. This was one of the major conflicts that Queen Elizabeth faced. It is very relevant today with career versus home life. However, in this time, the title had to take precedence over everything. The role of wife, mother, sister and daughter had to be secondary. Watching Queen Elizabeth have to embrace and transform into this at such a young age is astounding.

With Philip, we feel her struggle with her deep love for her new husband and her responsibility for the nation. We feel what he has to sacrifice in order to be a part of this relationship. We see how their marital bond is constantly tested by the title versus the person. It was also fascinating to know that this marriage was not supported from the beginning. Yet, there is such a poignant moment between The King and Philip when they go hunting in the pilot. The King helps Philip to see that there is no lesser role and nothing more patriotic than what he has to do with loving and protecting her.

Another relationship dynamic that moved me was the bond between the Queen and her two daughters. I never considered that when the King died, she was stripped of everything and her daughters took over. To have to see her face the death of her spouse and then go through so much loss really made us feel her pain.

I also loved the story arc where there was a promise made between the two sisters and their father. This promise is later put to the test when it is discovered that there is no way that the promise can be honored in light of the position and the responsibility. This is when we see and feel the true conflict for Queen Elizabeth and what she had to go through to maintain the role while not letting the intimate relationships in her family unravel.

For me, this is definitely one of the best first seasons that I’ve seen of any series in my 24 years of story. It filled my spirit because the writer, the director, the cast and the crew fulfilled their service to story at the highest level at a time when we need it the most.

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by on Sep.16, 2016, under Featured, Motivation

As a story consultant, one of the things that I do is I study the season arcs of shows. Two shows that I’ve watch recently that had very noteworthy season arcs were THE NIGHT MANAGER and HAPPY VALLEY. The noteworthy strengths in both shows are the arc of the wound for the central character and how the powerful and compelling villain keeps the protagonist in a constant state of conflict. I’ve always known that the arc of the wound makes us feel the story. When you combine this with an adversary that is a true threat, it takes story to a whole new level. When the audience feels the story at this level, it creates a desire to return to the show.

In HAPPY VALLEY, Catherine’s wound has to do with her daughter’s suicide after giving birth. In the series arc, Catherine discovers from her ex-husband that Tommy Lee Royce, the guy who she believes raped her daughter which lead to her daughter’s pregnancy and suicide, is being released from prison. In this series, the villain caused the wound that is fueling the protagonist. This is a very powerful series dilemma. The question being debated throughout the season is will Catherine take the law into her own hands and find the justice that she seeks? The series arc with Tommy Lee Royce involves a kidnapping. This is the case that the series is about. What we learn is that the wound could be experienced all over again in a different scenario by the time that the finale happens. The character of Tommy Lee Royce is a very strong character. We view his brokenness and evil ways through the girl that they kidnap. We see a human side of his darkness when he communicates with the son that he didn’t know that he had until he was released. He creates so many internal and external obstacles for Catherine to face throughout the season 1 arc. The season worked so well because in the finale we really felt it all coming to a head. The answer to the season question is revealed.

In THE NIGHT MANAGER, there is a very powerful wound that we experience in the first episode with Jonathan Pine. The trauma of his loss is what fuels his season pursuit. The villain is an international arms dealer named Richard Roper. The initial trauma that Jonathan suffers is caused by a choice he makes after the revelation of the news that the arms deal is about to take place. After Pine’s loss in the series arc, a British Intelligence officer recruits him to infiltrate Roper’s inner circle. Jonathan must become a criminal himself to achieve his goal. The wound of the loss is magnified in the pilot arc with the dynamic that Jonathan has with Roper’s girlfriend, Jed. Jonathan’s desire for love gets in the way of the mission and creates tremendous obstacles with Roper. The dynamic between Pine and Roper with the knowledge of the wound is what really brings us emotionally into this incredibly gripping series.

I believe that the key to a successful series is the combination of these two components. When done well, the series trigger and dilemma sets up the wound. With doing this, you set up the internal story and create an internal stakes arc. When you have a strong villain, we get a sense of what the worst that can happen is throughout the series. This adds to the momentum of the show. It is the combination of the internal wound with the external force of the villain that leads to undeniable drama. This is what brings the audience back.

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by on Aug.03, 2016, under Featured, Motivation

We are all storytellers. We begin telling stories as small children and continue throughout our lives. Story is a constant. I’ve worked with story for 25 years now. As a former studio executive, a current writing instructor for a network and independent story/career consultant, I’m on a constant quest to understand how to best guide writers to write their stories in a way that leads to a sale in TV or film. What I’ve discovered with the writers that I’ve had the most success helping to launch their careers is that it comes down to three components – System, Illustration and Application.

My system communicates my worldview of story to student. I see story from a studio executive perspective. When I was a studio executive I analyzed story all day every day on up to 5 shows a week at every stage from concept to production draft. I saw my notes executed. I saw what worked and didn’t work to create strong story. As I prepared to write my book, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, I developed a system to teach story. I did this by gathering years worth of Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominated scripts. I studied them closely and extracted a formula that became the foundation of my system of teaching story. My system starts here: Strong story for TV and Film starts with what I call a powerful trigger incident. A trigger incident is something that happens at the beginning of the story that pushes the central character into a dilemma. The strength of the dilemma is key. A dilemma that forces the central character to make a difficult choice creates a powerful set up for story. It helps build empathy and a strong rooting factor in the audience. The central character’s choice in the dilemma defines her external goal. This goal should be totally clear by the end of Act One. Then, every action the central character takes and every obstacle she hits should link back to the goal. If the goal isn’t clear, the story won’t work. There should be internal and external stakes for the central character. We should always know what she wants externally, and what is the worst that can happen if she doesn’t get it. The internal story should also follow this logic and be in alignment with the external goal. This is the basics of the system that I designed to teach and analyze story.

The second critical component of teaching story is illustration. I use examples from current TV shows and films to illustrate my system to writers. When a writer clearly understands the system, examples help expand their view of story and allow them to hit some “aha” moments in their own learning process. Live events allow me to illustrate the lesson in real time by showing writers clips from TV and film. In my other avenues of teaching, I advise writers what specific things to watch and what to look for in the set up of those stories.

The third component of how I teach story is application. In one-on-one consults with writers I’m able to provide direct feedback on their stories. I use my story system to analyze whether the writer’s story is working or not. There is a tremendous value in this step because my system provides us a common language that allows me to communicate clearly the specific feedback the writer needs to understand in order to take their story to the next level. I use the system and illustration to teach writers how to apply the notes. My system, illustration and application go hand in hand to improve the writer’s outcome.

As a Story/Career consultant for writers, I’ve had the strongest success with writers who have read my books, taken advantage of my instruction at live events or online and utilized one-on-one consultations. Engaging in the complete process allows writers to soak in my system, see the illustrations and have a better understanding of how to apply the system, one that has led 40 of my clients to sell pilots, to their own work.

Want to learn more? I‘m teaching a Master Class in New York on August 12-13, 2016 at Screenwriters World. I’m also teaching a Master Class and three other classes at the London Screenwriting Festival at the beginning of September.

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BIBLE FORMULA for #Scriptchat

by on Jun.12, 2016, under Featured, Motivation, Personal tips


  • Explanation for the title of your Pilot.
  • Series log line and a brief paragraph describing your Pilot.
  • Pilot Log Line – Write a log line for your pilot (summary of the A story).
  • The Show – Describe your Pilot. This gives a sense of how you see your show.
  • The Format -Describe what your show will be week to week. Is it an action/adventure show? Is it a character drama? Is it a police procedural? Is it a medical or legal show? Is there humor? What will the balance of story be in each episode? For example, if you’re writing a legal show, will it be more about the case or more about the personal?
  • The Philosophy -Go into a deeper explanation of your concept and what your audience can expect from it.
  • The Characters -Write a paragraph or up to a page on each character.
  • Supporting Characters – Write a brief paragraph for each supporting/recurring role.
  • Character Dynamics – Give a paragraph about the primary relationships that are part of the inside story.
  • Formula – Give an idea of the story formula with regards to the A and B story arcs.
  • Themes – Go into the overarching themes.
  • The On-Going Sets – Write down what your regular sets/locations will be.

Where will the majority of story take place?

  • The Pilot Story – Write a longer description/overview of the Pilot story.
  • Future Story Arcs – Write a line about the “A” and the “B” story for your first 13 episodes. If it’s a cable show, write log lines for your first 8-10 episodes.
  • Overview – Give an overview of your series arcs for seasons 1, 2 and 3.
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by on Mar.04, 2016, under events, Featured, Motivation


Featured Speakers

Glen Mazzara

Glen Mazzara

Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner of A&E’s new series, DAMIEN

Stephen Falk

Stephen Falk

Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner of the FXX series, YOU’RE THE WORST

Corey Mandell

Corey Mandell

Award-Winning Playwright & Screenwriter

Jen Grisanti

Jen Grisanti

Story Consultant & Writing Instructor

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by on Feb.17, 2016, under Motivation, Podcasts


LINK to SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for ISA Podcast Listeners

The TV writing business is a tough one, but that’s why I make sure and tell all of my writers who are interested in writing for television that they need to work on writing specs. A spec script, in case you aren’t familiar with the term, is an original script but of an existing TV show – Bones, Criminal Minds, The Walking Dead, you get the idea. In today’s interview, I bring back consultant and instructor with NBC’s Writers on the Verge program, Jen Grisanti, to go into the details of writing for television, but more so what to expect and how to prepare for applying to the various studio level writing fellowships. Just about studio and network has one – Disney and ABC, NBC, CBS, Nickolodeon has one. They are all quite prestigious if and when you place as a finalist, and can virtually write you a ticket to success in terms of getting staffed on a show.


DISCOUNT NOTE! Jen is offering her FREE pilot worksheet and pitch document formula, and a special discount offer for ISA subscribers by clicking the link below. Her next class, also being offered at a discount to ISA members, is March 1! Get in on it! Follow the link below.
We also discuss what the important elements are of spec scripts per fellowship, how to write your essay when applying for the programs, and what to expect if and when you reach the finals. Jen consistently reminds us, though, not to get discouraged if you do not place as a finalist. Any number of reasons could keep you from winning, from the number of submissions that year, to the level of immense quality per submission phase. This mindset can also equate to how to prepare yourself emotionally when submitting to screenplay contests. We’re all vying for the same position as ‘working writer’, and it’s why investing in your own writing education (and yourself, really) is so essential. Jen offers some excellent insight, as she always does, and it was a pleasure to bring her back for another interview. Keep working hard everyone, and stay tuned to Curious About Screenwriting through iTunes and social media. You can find us on Twitter @NetworkISA, and you can find me, your humble host @iMaxTimm, or through my Facebook author page under Maximilian Timm. As always, thanks for listening.

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by on Jan.24, 2016, under Motivation

Here is the LINK for those of you who were at the ISA breakfast at Sundance.

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by on Jan.13, 2016, under Featured, Motivation

What does a storyteller have to do to make us feel their story? Last year, there were so many films that made us really feel what the story was trying to say. The films that I felt the most were; The Revenant, Spotlight, Room, Steve Jobs and Inside Out.

We feel story through the understanding of truth being revealed and it affirming something within us. It is all about the internal view of the external story. We feel story when we’re taken into a life moment that we may not recognize on the outside but that we completely understand internally. It is fulfilling a void through finding a solution. If we know what the internal struggle is and the arc of healing the wound is explored well, we feel the conflict and triumph in the outcome. When we understand what the filmmaker is trying to say, we feel the story.

The Revenant is about the true story of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass surviving a brutal attack by a bear. This is what it is on the outside. Internally, it is about finding answers and moving forward after suffering tremendous loss mentally, emotionally and physically. It is poetic in how it’s done, with the scenes from a moment of loss that happened before the story starts connecting to one that happens during the story. The arc of healing the wound is beautifully played. It is graphic and extremely violent. However, this really sends home what it is to survive. I was mesmerized by this story. I felt so connected to the journey back from loss, betrayal and torture. How do you find redemption in this type of scenario? Will redemption bring you peace? There were so many elements of humanity revealed in this masterpiece directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It penetrated both the mind and the spirit.

Spotlight tells a riveting story based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe investigation that uncovered the enormous scandal of child molestation and cover-ups within the local Archdiocese, causing an upheaval in one of the world’s most trusted institutions. It is an amazing story to watch how all the pieces of the puzzle in this journalistic endeavor came together. What brings you into the story emotionally is that many of the journalists covering it up grew up Catholic. So, we got to see their personal challenges within this exploration of truth. The cast is phenomenal. The story is enthralling. This issue is something that hits us all on a universal level.

Room is another incredible story of survival. It explores the depth of the connection between a mother and her son after going through the horrific ordeal of the mother being abducted and impregnated by her captor and living in one room for the first five years of her son’s life before her son helps them to escape. The wound is crystal clear. The imagination of the son and how this moves him through the experience is awe-inspiring. The psychological effect of only knowing the relationship with his mom and having no understanding of the world outside of the room is truly moving. The reintegration into life is what we root for. The idea explored is; can you move past a trauma of this magnitude and find meaning and purpose again? This experience may be foreign to us, but the idea of moving past a severe trauma is very universal. It is the internal story that brings us in and makes us feel for both of these characters. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay give brilliant performances. This is a story that will stay with you.

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest innovators. It explores the digital revolution and shows us what life looked like for Steve Jobs during three iconic product launches. There are several scenes in this film written by Aaron Sorkin that are mind-blowing. It is the internal view of Steve Jobs that makes us feel this story. This is shown through the relationship with a daughter he initially denied was his, the reveal that he was adopted, his views toward feeling rejected and the dynamic with his loyal colleague, Joanna (played brilliantly by Kate Winslet). We feel his wound in the scene where John Sculley says; “Why do people who were adopted feel like they were rejected instead of selected?” For me, it is the parallel between his feeling about this life incident that happened and how it happened and what goes on with his daughter that made me understand this man in a whole new way. I came into this film wanting to know more about who Steve Jobs was and what made him tick. I LOVED how I felt after seeing this film. I loved it so much that I saw it twice.

Inside Out is a whimsical view into the emotional life of young Riley whose world is turned upside down when her parents tell her that they are going to move. What makes us feel this story is the interplay between her emotions; Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness that are all embodied by characters. I LOVED this movie because it really stops isolation and builds a sense of community through the understanding of how our internal emotions influence our external life. We’ve all gone through a myriad of these emotions. Seeing them come to life and try to make sense of the pursuit that they’re on to ultimately make Riley happy is a gift. It also shows us that we need to move through and understand all of our emotions to help guide us to where we want to go in life. I love the message. I felt the story. This is a film that touches us all no matter what our age.

We feel your story when the storyteller gives us an inside view of the conflict in question through the worldview of the central character and when we understand what you are trying to say with your story. It is the internal view of a character that pulls us in emotionally and makes us identify with what is being explored.

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