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WSP 321 — TV Writer for a Day: Crafting a Series Pilot

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturday and Sunday
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Oct 2—Oct 3
Time: 9:30 am—12:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 25
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $240
Instructor(s): Adam Tobin
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
Saturday and Sunday
9:30 am—12:00 pm (PT)
Oct 2—Oct 3
2 days
Refund Date
Sep 25
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Adam Tobin
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
From Black Mirror to Black-ish, from I May Destroy You to WandaVision, some of the most compelling stories today are created in TV writers’ rooms. But how do you wrangle an idea into a series? What exactly is needed from a pilot, and how does it sustain and evolve over seasons? And what does “TV” mean when traditional networks battle the big streamers and TikTok? This course will introduce you to the form and content of writing a TV pilot. We will start with a general discussion of the current landscape of TV and the forms that TV series can take—comedy versus drama, hour versus half hour, commercial versus streaming, single-camera versus multicam, serial versus episodic. We will then move on to the concept of a “franchise” of a series and the underlying premise material of a show, with exercises that will help you develop your own specific TV idea. Finally, we will discuss plot and structure, with an eye toward shaping your pilot episode. Short writing exercises will be interspersed among lecture, clips, and discussion. Whether you’re a TV addict or an experienced writer, or both, you'll get a taste of what it means to be “in the writers’ room.”

Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter, playwright, and actor. He created the series About a Girl and Best Friend’s Date for Viacom’s TeenNick (formerly The N channel) and received an Emmy for his work on Cash Cab. Tobin has also written the script and lyrics for She Persisted, the Musical, a New York Times Critics' Pick based on Chelsea Clinton’s book. Tobin has taught story seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. He received an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) William Rabkin, Writing the Pilot (ISBN 0615533612)
(Recommended) Linda Venis, Inside the Room (ISBN 1592408117)