By Cait Collins
I am enjoying the History Channel’s presentation of Texas Rising. I truly appreciate the advancement of original programming on the cable networks. The major networks have positioned themselves to become real leaders in the entertainment industry. Major performers used to shy away from the “small screen” as they appeared to think accepting a television contract would destroy careers. Not so any more.
Last season Kevin Costner brought The Hatfields and McCoys to the History Channel. The production quality rivaled that of the major movie studios. An all-star cast, spectacular cinematography, top-notch writing, excellent marketing, and an attention to historic detail created hours of entertainment. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular series on TV. TNT has hits with Major Crimes, Rizzoli and Isles, Under the Dome, and Cold Justice. Suits will soon begin a new season on USA. Higher budget shows have resulted in more quality programming. The trend toward short seasons calls for more original shows. The new series have brought more viewers to the Cable channels and created a higher demand for good writers.
Actors may be talented, costumers and set designers creative, directors motivating, and producers quick to come up with cash, but without inventive writers, there is no program. The writer creates the characters and keeps them alive and vibrant by giving them new challenges and a stream of secondary characters to play off of. The settings are developed by the writer and have led to memorable locales. Cabot Cove, Maine; M*A*S*H’s O R’s and the Swamp, South Fork Ranch, and Walton’s’ Mountain can be found in the television atlas.
Screen and television scripts require special training and an understanding of basic production, but they are fun to write. They are also a great plotting tool for books and short stories which can be a second sales opportunity. And you don’t have to move to New York or California to get the necessary education. Check the catalogue for your local college or university to see what they offer in screenwriting and production techniques.
With this in mind, what is your idea for a new television series? Will you write a sitcom or a drama? What occupations will the characters have? What is the setting? Will they be wealthy or middle class? What are their flaws and what are their strengths? Happy writing.