First things first, Writing Pad would like to give props to Chad Gervich. This week, he is wrapping up not one—but two—TV shows (“After Lately” and “Cupcake Wars”)! He stepped off set for a moment to talk with us about the television industry and the craft of pilot writing. Chad, a TV writer, producer, and development exec, will share his secrets for creating a riveting pilot and bringing it to the screen at his upcoming Writing Pad class, Writing A Pilot That Can Fly.
We can’t wait! It starts Monday and is almost full (only 1 spot left). In the meantime, here’s a little bit about Chad’s background and some of his tips on writing for television.
Chad says, “TV writing is unlike any other kind of writing. It’s nothing like novel writing. It’s not like screenwriting. Even if you are a writer who isn’t necessarily interested in writing for TV, my pilot writing class will still be incredibly valuable to you because it will teach you new ways of looking at character, story, and conflict. I think people underestimate how complex and interesting TV is.”
TV writing has helped Chad, who was originally a playwright, hone his own writing craft. He says, “Even if I’m writing something nonfiction like a how to article or a profile for a magazine, I now make sure that there is story and conflict in every single sentence. Even if I’m writing something that isn’t a narrative, I make sure that I am clearly communicating the emotional journey of the piece.”
After 12 years in the industry, Chad has worked on programs such as “The Wanda Sykes Show,” “Star Search,” “Malcom In The Middle,” and he regularly publishes articles in Daily Variety, Script, and Writer’s Digest. In 2008, Chad wrote “Small Screen, Big Picture
” (Random House/Crown), a guide that makes the complexities and jargon of the TV business easy to understand. He created the book because “a lot of new writers don’t think of television as a business with creative rules, business rules, processes and paths that must be followed. They think, ‘As long as I’m creative and a good writer, I’ll succeed.’ But that’s not true.” The book helps aspiring television writers understand “how the business works, where the business side meets the creative side and how they affect each other.” It’s used at industry classes and Universities nationwide.
When it comes to pilot writing, Chad says, “A pilot isn’t just a great story. It has to do very specific things to be sellable or used as a viable writing sample.” He recommends that you keep these three things in mind when you sit down to brainstorm your pilot:
1. The pilot needs to work just like every episode is going to work.
For example, is it a mystery series? If all of the episodes are going to be about solving a mystery throughout the show, the pilot has to work the same way.
2.The pilot needs to show us where the story is going to come from every week.
For instance, if it’s a relationship story like “Everyone Loves Raymond,” Raymond is always forced to balance what his wife wants with what his mother wants.
3. You to be very clear on who the characters are and what their relationships are to each other.
You need to really understand those dynamics before you complete your pilot.
Thanks for sharing these helpful insights, Chad! We look forward to learning more from you in your Writing A Pilot That Can Fly
class next week.