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Writing the Pilot

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Television networks are so desperate for new voices and fresh ideas that for the first time in history they're buying spec pilot scripts and turning them into series. Today's aspiring writer can be tomorrow's showrunner. But it's not easy. Conceiving and writing a pilot that can launch a series is a complex assignment even for a seasoned pro. This book will take you throug ...more
Paperback, 90 pages
Published August 29th 2011 by Moon & Sun & Whiskey, Incorporated (first published July 8th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Claude Nougat
In our digital age, it is clear that forms of entertainment are rapidly changing. TV series that used to be looked down upon as a minor form are now hot while Hollywood, once the Queen of entertainment has a hard time keeping up. Novels - even in the ebook format - are beginning to look like they're coming in last, even behind video games. It is time therefore for writers to look at what is happening on TV and learn how to do it.

This is why "Writing the Pilot" is such an essential read - highly
...more
Robin Conley
This book doesn't cover everything about the writing of a pilot, but it gives a very big step forward in getting started. It mostly focuses on the process and key things to do in prepping yourself to write, but doesn't get into too many specific writing tips. All of the advice seemed really valuable, and there were quite a few pieces that made me want to think about how I've been approaching writing to see if I'm doing it Rabkin's way or not. There were definitely a lot of things to try, and I'd ...more
Lee Goldberg
"Writing the Pilot" is entertaining and jam-packed with useful information. He writes with a casual, humorous, and knowledgeable voice that sets this book far apart from other screenwriting books. It's like having lunch with a good friend. But don't mistake that light touch for a lack of depth or academic value. His detailed analysis of what makes a great pilot...vs what makes a great opening episode for a series...is simply brilliant. And his indepth analysis of the pilots for "Fast Forward," " ...more
Patrice Maltais
This book is a very quick read, but it does hold some very important information into properly formulating a premise for a TV series that will carry it for several seasons. It assumes you know screenwriting already, so that is not a basic book to learn the craft. It is to apply it properly in the context of creating a series so you can write a pilot that has legs. That book is there to show you the common pitfalls so you can save a lot of time and work by sidestepping them instead of working you ...more
Paula
I hardly want to count this as a book since it's so short. I feel like the book provides very generic and generalized information without actually bothering to teach any skills. So, if you already know this stuff, this book isn't for you. At the same time,if you don't know any of this stuff, this book isn't for you. Maybe it was a bit of a money grab. Bummer.
Susan K
it could be a series of articles

There is some useful information and important guidelines, but the book rambles and, ironically, isn't all that well written. screenwriting books in general aren't written well, yet books on other genres are. why is that? Get your library to purchase this or buy the paperback so you can resell it.
Courtney
Not even remotely academic, making it a very quick read. Rabkin relies on examples from his past and draws from other successful shows (this is why ____ was successful/unsuccessful). Interesting but only mildy useful to me in terms of researching methods of character development on television.
Lauren
This is quick read. It's a pretty simple guide to stuff one would want to keep in mind while writing a spec pilot. Rabkin illustrates all of his points with helpful case studies. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone with a series idea floating around in their heads. Rabkin nicely breaks down how to organize those ideas and make them something more tangible.

On a side note, I was frustrated with all the copy errors. I felt like no one edited or even read this book before it was published. Tere
...more
Talal
An entertaining and informative read, short, sweet and to the point. I enjoyed it.
Maria
4.5/5
Stars

I've been wanting to read this for a while. Really quick read. I enjoyed reading it and learning about the entertainment industry. It also makes me want to watch all of those tv shows that I never watched to begin with.
(Ha - I made a list :) )

I liked rabkin's humor, honesty and ease of his writing. 4.5 as its still a nonfiction and that's always hard to get into despite how interesting the subject (I think). You still need to put it down from time to time - or maybe thats just me -- or
...more
Alex
Pithy, with lots of good advice.
Joshua Jones
Great read!

I learned a lot about the television industry and writing generally. Much of his advice can be useful any writing genre.
Shonell Bacon
Great little book. Rabkin, in a conversational tone, moves you through understanding what a pilot is (and what it isn't). I was particularly a fan of the discussion on franchise, the elements of franchise (characters, setting, types of stories told, style of dialogue, way(s) people interact, and storytelling style), and the importance of understanding the two types of conflict and theme in relationship to the show's franchise and the characters.
Adam
Definitely a good read with regards to crafting the characters of the series, but leave you wanting with regards to structuring the pilot. Overall the book focuses on crafting the series, and from there hints towards what makes an effective pilot. I liked it and drew some insight from it, although the insight I was looking for(re: pilots) was lacking.
Luke Zwanziger
A nice quick read to keep one's head in the game. Provides a good lens for looking at how other pilots were built and the elements that go into them. Nothing world shattering unfortunately. Even so, it helped me clarify some of the problems I've been having with my pilot. Glad it was free through the Kindle Lending Library.
Mariel
Rabkin writes with razor sharp precision for what makes a good, sustainable pilot. Some of his points are drawn out longer than necessary, but it's helpful to read his analyses of various shows.
Colleen
I write plays but have never written for film or television, so this was a great read and full of helpful tips for how to go about writing a pilot.
Jill Edmondson
A quick, concise "How To" for aspiring TV writers. Worth reading if you want
to learn a bit about script writing and creating a TV series.
Chris
Great book for the novice, but enough to remind the expert of what the focus should be. I learned a lot from this book!
Jilles
Great little book if you want to write a pilot!
Pamela Cowart
Pamela Cowart is currently reading it
Mar 09, 2015
Hanna
Hanna marked it as to-read
Mar 08, 2015
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William Rabkin is a two-time Edgar Award nominee who writes the Psych series of novels and is the author of Writing the Pilot. He has consulted for studios in Canada, Germany, and Spain on television series production and teaches screenwriting at UCLA Extension and as an adjunct professor in UC Riverside's low-residency masters program.

William Rabkin has written and/or produced more than 300 hours
...more
More about William Rabkin...
A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read (Psych, #1) Mind Over Magic (Psych, #2) The Call of the Mild (Psych, #3) A Fatal Frame of Mind (Psych, #4) Mind-altering Murder (Psych, #5)

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