Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

The PSP is accepting applications for our next scripted series lab until September 1st, 2019. Six writers will be given the opportunity to create a new tv series with an experienced showrunner. Interested? We want to read your original tv script! If you’re wondering how to write an original spec script, the first step is coming up with an idea. The whole prospect can be a bit daunting when the options are endless. Sometimes it helps to remember that this is something you’ve been doing since you were little.

Play Like A Little Kid

Okay, let’s imagine you are a five-year-old kid looking into a box of toys in the corner of a waiting room. You’re digging around to see what you want to play with. Then you find three green plastic army guys, a red plastic bendy monkey, and a small wooden horse with one leg broken off. So those are your characters.

Next, you look around to find a spot to set them up. Under your mom’s chair will do nicely. You’ll have some privacy and, even better, you can use her big brown leather purse as a mountain for your characters. This will be your world.

It turns out that Purse Mountain is full of treasure. The army guys have it and are guarding from above. Bendy Monkey promises Horse that she will find a way into the treasure cave in Purse Mountain to get the elixir that can restore Horse’s missing leg. Horse is grateful but very weak. Bendy Monkey is scared but determined. You realize that Horse is suffering from a curse made by an evil wizard back when he rescued Bendy Monkey from a cage in the wizard’s library. If Bendy Monkey can’t get the elixir quickly, then Horse’s other legs are going to break off. That’s your conflict and those are the stakes. You could say that it’s really a story about friendship solidifying courage in. That’s your theme.

Test Your Idea Like A Kid Looking For Someone To Play With

You are going to feel an urge to just start, but hold on! You need to test the idea on other people first, so experiment until you have a logline you can actually say smoothly out loud to real people. (I mean it! REAL people! Not just to yourself out loud. Be brave.) But back to Purse Mountain, as a kid, you would have said, “Want to play? Bendy Monkey has to get past the guards to save Horse.” That’s your log line and your pitch.

In other words, narrow it down to writing the kind of show you yourself would want to watch. Imagine your world and get as specific as you can. Then figure out the conflict. What mess will the characters get themselves into? Is this mess powerful enough to be your story engine through multiple episodes?  What personalities and character attributes would create the best web of complications and conflicting views? Doodle, brainstorm, make an imageboard or tape up creepy webs of photos connected by yarn. Do whatever helps you to really understand what adventure you want to play.

That’s where you always start. Don’t worry, you’ve been doing it since you were small!