What will emerge as the TV drama sensations of the future? Will we be seeing more bodice-ripping costume dramas, gritty contemporary box sets and adventures of avatars? Or will there be more of a move towards psychological thrillers and cosy little domestic dramas, with a twist?
Nobody can say for sure - not even the commissioning editors who will be responsible, because right now they're still script editors, working their way up the media ladder. But one thing we do know is that, whatever treats are in store for our screens in 3-4 years time, each future hit TV drama series probably already exists somewhere - as a twinkle in a writer's eye.
(It took Matthew Weiner over six years to get Mad Men to the screen. It was worth the wait. He currently says of his next project: "I think I'm about five or six months pregnant.")
The Next Big Idea
The germ of an idea - the inspiration - can come from anywhere: a snatched snippet of conversation, an item on the news or in the local paper - perhaps even the sudden realization that a specific personal experience would make for a great TV drama.
Ideas can strike at any time, often taking the form of themes, or "visualisations". A writer will sometimes wake in the middle of the night to note down what seems at the time to be a brilliant idea, only to look at that same scribble in the morning and wonder what on earth he was thinking. But sometimes, something just clicks, and it's immediately clear that an idea is worth exploring.
So then what?
EXPLORE THE TWINKLES IN YOUR OWN EYES
ON MY NEXT COURSE
(STARTS SUNDAY 4TH OCTOBER)
If it's ever going to see the light of day, emerging from the chrysalis as a fully-fledged, commissionable series proposal, an idea for a TV drama series needs to be properly developed. The first thing to do is take it out for a bit of a spin: how would it work? Who would it appeal to? Which channel might commission it, and for which slot? Would it have international appeal?
Sometimes, it becomes clear early on that the idea isn't quite as strong as the writer thought it was. Maybe it's too reminiscent of something that's gone before, or would cost too much to make, or there just isn't enough substance in the story to warrant a series. It may be time to think again. Good writers learn to troubleshoot their own ideas and throw out the turkeys quickly, so as not to waste too much time.
But when an idea is right, they will absolutely know it.
In that case, all the usual troubleshooting questions fall by the wayside during the project's gestation period, as the characters, themes and stories unfold, and the idea grows from strength to strength. New ideas pop up when the writer least expects them; when she didn't even know her subconscious was working so hard on her behalf. The writer may begin to dream about the characters; to wake up in the morning with new stories and ideas literally tumbling out of his head - even when he's not normally a morning person.
At moments like these, the writer knows she is really onto something.
FIND OUT HOW TO REACH THAT EUREKA MOMENT
ON MY NEXT COURSE!
But it's still hard to work in isolation. Most writers find it helpful to run their ideas past others during the development process. It's important to know they are on the right track; not deluded or going crazy - or simply unaware of a similar project that has already been produced or is in the pipeline. Constructive feedback and objective opinions are crucial - it's always better to troubleshoot early than to end up with a flawed proposal.
Writers who go through this disciplined process stay motivated and focused. They learn how to sort the wheat from the chaff and find unique nuggets of gold. They hone their projects until they're ready to market, and then they're off.
They are easily recognisable, these writers: they are the ones with a twinkle in their eye; the writers who will be responsible for the television drama hits of the future.
It will be interesting to discover what Matthew Weiner is currently expecting....and whether or not he goes to full term with his second birth.
PLACES STILL AVAILABLE AT THE DISCOUNT PRICE ON MY
CREATE YOUR OWN TV DRAMA SERIES
A practical, inspirational course running over six Sundays between 4 October and 15 November 2015. For details: click here
Tutor: Anji Loman Field
It's not long until the London Screenwriters' Festival, one of the highlights of the year for screenwriters - and for us at Euroscript.
We get to take our Script Clinic out on the road, hear about all kinds of exciting film projects, and meet lots of interesting and talented new (and familiar) people.
The LSF is a great event for writers, featuring:
And, last but not least ...
But beware this common error.
Too many writers pitch an idea to a producer at LSF, get a positive response - then delay sending the script because they know, deep down, that it isn't ready.
We've seen this happen many times.
Writers then spend a month or two trying to wrestle their story into shape, producers forget about meeting them, the moment passes ... and the script never gets sent out.
So now is the time to get your film project in shape for October.
And we can help!
Our 'doctors' can give you the feedback you need to make the right improvements to your story, so you'll feel confident to show it (immediately) to anyone who's interested.
After all, we're the people the LSF trusts to give feedback. Otherwise, we wouldn't be on-site for the entire Festival, offering appointments and drop-in help at the Script Clinic.
You can read more about our feedback services here.
The Script Clinic
Every year, we take our Script Clinic to the LSF. And every year we get the same comments - that, of all the events on offer, it's the one most directly concerned with helping writers, and the one most focused on their projects.
At the Script Clinic, writers get the best possible advice on their stories in a friendly, one-to-one meeting with a professional editor who has read their material.
We can even give you last-minute help with your pitch.
But it takes a while to write a new draft - usually much longer than writers imagine. So, with our help, make the best use of your time before the Festival.
THE ONLY PLACE TO TALK ABOUT THE CRAFT OF SCRIPTWRITING.