Plotting a Script Series (TV and Radio, mainly)

Currently in my university degree they’re deciding to test us by getting us to do a series as a group, so the most important thing to do is keep track of everything that’s going on in your series. This is how you do it, at least it’s how I’m taught it.

STEP 1: THE TABLE

This is how you would set this table out. Hopefully it might make sense, but don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to work at first. It took us a while to get our heads round it first time round. Your table will need two rows down the page. The first box will be labelled EPISODE NUMBER and the box underneath it labelled WHAT HAPPENS. Simple, right? Now figure out how many episodes you want in a series. As an example, if you’re doing a six episode series, you need six columns next to the one with the titles in it. The top row you need to write the episode numbers in. Later, if you so wish, can also put the title of the episodes when you actually know what happens in all the episodes.

STEP 2: FILLING IN THE TABLE

This is the tricky bit. It may seem simple, but even I struggle with it. What you need to figure out is where the series starts in the pilot (the first episode) and what happens in the finale (last episode). Once you have those planned out, the fun begins trying to fill in the bits in between. On the table of the row labelled WHAT HAPPENS you would write for what episode an event is to happen. Once the beginning and the end are set, you figure out what happens in the middle, which can be a decline in your protagonist’s (main character) status. In the Radio Drama series I’m doing for my second year, our middle episode has our protagonist sent from the Realm he’s used to so he’s stuck on Earth as his decline. Not all series have a decline in the middle, but it can be intriguing and can help the audience connect to your protagonist.

Once you’ve done that you’ll need to do the difficult task of filling in the gaps. As a little guide from the lecture I had on working this contraption, my lecturer told us to work backwards, giving us an option to be able to see what gets a character into a certain position. Once you’ve done all the way through the series, go back and see if there’s any more details you can put in to make sure it makes sense and there aren’t any loopholes to iron out.

STEP 3: EDITING THE TABLE ONCE PLANNING HAS BEGUN

This bit is always tricky when writing anything, really. You’ll need to write the Outlines for the episodes and then when you’ve got them all to where you want them to be, looking at the table, check everything fits. If there’s any inconsistencies, this will be the chance to sort them out. This will also help you try and get rid of loopholes and make sure your episodes are as tight as they can be.

Rewrite the Outlines a second time, just to make sure they’re top notch and then check the table again. Once you think they fit together and convey everything you want in the story, you can continue onto the Scene by Scene Synopsis (the bit of treatment that’s basically like a script without the dialogue). Then you’re on your way to writing your own series.

I hope this has helped you to figure out how to plan what needs to go into what episodes. It took me a while to get round it, but it’s definitely worth it. May you have great success with your writing.

Love,

Abbie Allen

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