Planning Your Storyline When Making A TV Show

Making A TV Show

The success of a TV shows relies on a number of factors, with the storyline being at the forefront. Planning the storyline of a TV show is a big task if looking at it as a whole, but can be less stressful when broken down into separate tasks. With so many things needing to be done, for example choosing the storyline format and TV show genre, you may not even know where to begin. Let’s start by putting together a storyline planning checklist and then look at the differences and benefits of both an episodic and serial storyline format as an example. In the midst of this seemingly chaotic process is where The Michael Group shines and brings your vision to the screen.

Planning Your Storyline

Planning and writing a storyline for a TV show can be extremely daunting if you don’t know where to start. Going through these steps can help you to take a step back and make sure you’re on the right track.

  1. Focus on the reason for writing the story

  2. Select your 3 favorite TV shows and analyze them from the ground, up – make notes of what you like and dislike about them.

  3. Read the pilot scripts of these 3 TV shows

  4. Decide on your script’s genre and format

  5. Come up with or refine your story line – get feedback and do research to make sure it is original

  6. Start editing and outlining your own pilot script

Episodic Format

Following an episodic format allows for a new story to be told each week, while using the same characters. Although there is an overarching story from season to season, individuals who miss an episode will not be completely lost. An example of this would be in the series “Friends” where each episode focuses on a specific event, but Ross and Rachel’s relationship has continuous ups and downs throughout seasons.


  • This format option allows for more flexibility. It is a format which makes space for multiple narratives to create a larger world, as opposed to serialized format which creates a singular story narrative.

  • Creating episodes can be less daunting than trying to create an entire season. Breaking the season down into smaller chunks, or episodes, not only makes it more manageable, but can help to stream-line the plotting process.

  • It is easier for viewers to get addicted to episodes as there is a sense of completion as each episode comes to an end. For example, in Law and Order, a case is generally solved by the end of each episode, and so provides the audience with a sense of accomplishment.

Serialized Format

Being one big story told over an entire season makes it essential for the audience not to miss a single episode. Each episode holds in it clues for the audience that further extends the plot.


  • With the plot only being resolved at the end of the season, this format forces the writer to keep each episode interesting. Each episode needs to have in it the right amount of clues and excitement to keep the audience in suspense and coming back for more.

  • It allows for life to happen. Whether it be a change of heart in the direction of the story, or an actor needing to drop out of the production, this unexpected change can be easily incorporated and used as a twist in the overall plot. The benefit of needing to change the plot of a story using this format is leaving the audience blissfully unaware. Never knowing how the plot was supposed to be resolved, they’ll never know that it changed.

  • If the season is a success, using this format is a great gateway to people showing interest in other work of yours.

A good storyline is an essential part of a TV show, but its message can be completely lost if the filming is of poor quality or unrealistic. The Michael Group is a video production company, made up of a skilled team of professionals who can be trusted to bring your story to life. Feel free to contact us for more information or with any questions you may have.

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