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Writing the Pilot

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  269 Ratings  ·  26 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, 96 pages
Published August 29th 2011 by Moon & Sun & Whiskey, Incorporated (first published July 8th 2011)
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Lee Goldberg
Aug 13, 2011 Lee Goldberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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 simply brilliant. And his indepth analysis of the pilots for "Fast Forward," " ...more
Robin Conley
Jan 23, 2015 Robin Conley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2015 Kylie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On a scale of 1-10, this book definitely hits a solid 9. Any aspiring author or spec pilot writer MUST read this book. This book perfectly illustrates the perks and downsides of the TV industry. It also focuses in on how to build your main characters and supporting characters and how to bring something new and exciting to your plot using them. This book goes far beyond writing the pilot of a spec TV series. It goes into the TV industry in it’s entirety and writing in general.

I would strongly rec
Claude Forthomme
Apr 10, 2014 Claude Forthomme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Perlstein
Sep 04, 2015 Stephen Perlstein rated it it was amazing
Writing the Pilot by William Rabkin

Writing the Pilot is a simple guide on how to write a television pilot. What makes this book good is not just what it covers, but what it doesn't.

Writing the Pilot doesn't tell you how many days to write in. It doesn't tell you about screenplay format. It doesn't tell you what subjects are good. It doesn't tell you what genres are good. It doesn't tell you about agents or managers. It doesn't tell you about act structure and commercial breaks. It doesn't tell y
Bill Williams
Sep 05, 2015 Bill Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing the Pilot by William Rabkin is an interesting window into the production of a television series. There have been changes to that industry that have made it more possible for outsiders to have a shot at having someone read their work.

I read the book as a writer who creates pitch documents for comic book series. Those docs are sent to people who already have full plates as they manage the series already in production under their guidance. I read the book because I want to make my work bett
Jan 24, 2016 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quickly, easy read that provides a solid overview for tackling the television pilot. This book concentrates on everything that needs to happen before you tackle page one of the script itself and is a valuable read for anyone writing on spec. The book's major weakness lies in how fast the television landscape is changing. Writing an original pilot is no longer groundbreaking, and filming your pilot and releasing it on the Internet has been done so many times that it is no longer a guaranteed wa ...more
Patrice Maltais
Oct 08, 2014 Patrice Maltais rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2014 Paula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2015 Susan K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 09, 2014 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brandi Payne
Oct 17, 2015 Brandi Payne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Very easy read. Definitely had a few good points where I learned something new but most of it was advice I've heard time and again from writing blogs, podcasts, etc. Worth the affordable Kindle price however.
Kait Nolan
Mar 12, 2016 Kait Nolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A nice, clear, concise craft book on episodic narrative (handy if you're looking to do serials), with some interesting looks at what's different between adapting novel length stuff to episodic TV.
May 13, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tv-books
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
Feb 04, 2015 Talal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining and informative read, short, sweet and to the point. I enjoyed it.
Nov 21, 2014 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Mar 08, 2014 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
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
Jun 19, 2013 Shonell Bacon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Sep 07, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 27, 2012 Mariel rated it liked it
Shelves: 20-s, hollywood
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.
Dec 03, 2013 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2013 Jill Edmondson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 04, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for the novice, but enough to remind the expert of what the focus should be. I learned a lot from this book!
Sep 29, 2013 Jilles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little book if you want to write a pilot!
Danielle Casale
Danielle Casale rated it it was amazing
Aug 26, 2016
Laura is currently reading it
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Debbi Mack
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Aug 25, 2016
Luanne marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2016
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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 about William Rabkin...

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