How to create and pitch a TV drama: A weekend bootcamp | Guardian Masterclasses

Game of Thrones. Sherlock. succession. Breaking Bad. Many of the most successful television series are long-form dramas: narratives told about a large number of episodes that generate tension, anticipation and conversation.

If you’re intrigued by how to produce sprawling storylines propelled by an amalgamation of unique and memorable characters, Scarlett Thomas can show you. A novelist, screenwriter and academic, she’s best-placed to take you through the process behind shaping and telling long stories.

You will learn how to identify underlying structures in contemporary TV dramas such as Succession, Flowers and The White Lotus before brainstorming your own ideas. Through theoretical instruction and informal discussion, you will also discover the five-act structure and why it’s so important, how to create big character arcs, ‘mirroring’ and reversals in fortune, how to ‘read’ television, and how to develop an irresistible hook for your own TV show.

By the end of this weekend masterclass, you will have a solid understanding of what goes into creating and pitching long-form dramas, and you will have created a logline and one-pager for your very own.

Course content

  • Understanding the five-act structure

  • What is a ‘beat’?

  • What is a ‘hook’?

  • The inciting incident

  • Using dramatic ‘turns’ and ‘mirroring’

  • Crafting a midpoint

  • The ‘all hope is lost’ beat

  • How to craft a logline

  • Character arcs and ‘rootability’

  • Pitching your show

Tutor profile

Scarlett Thomas is the author of multiple contemporary cult novels, including The End of Mr. Y, Oligarchy, The Seed Collectors, PopCo, and the Worldquake series of middle-grade books. Her novels have sold over half a million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 26 languages. She is Professor of Creative Writing and Contemporary Fiction at the University of Kent, where for the last 18 years she has run writing seminars and mentored junior staff and emerging writers. Her book on writing fiction, Monkeys With Typewriters, is popular with both established and beginning writers. Scarlett is currently working on a new novel, a book about storytelling and various projects for television.


Date: Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25, 2022
time: 2pm-5.30pm (BST) on both days
Price: £249 (plus £7.80 booking fee)

Course capacity: 25

This masterclass is available globally. If you are joining us from outside the United Kingdom, please use this time zone converter to check your local live streaming time.

2pm BST | 3pm CEST | 6am PDT | 9pm EDT

You will be sent a link to the webinar 24 hours and 2 hours before the start time of 2pm (BST)

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