Fade in: real life screenwriting
Writer John Rogers has decided to throw open the doors of the freelance TV writing process. He's an outside writer who's pitched an idea to a new TV show for an episode. He knew the show's writer-producers, and was familiar with the story arc, so he walked in pretty confidently. It looks, from his first post, that there will definitely be more to come. But as he says, "Lord knows if we'll actually shoot the bastard."
What's cool is that he lets you in the door and sits you down next to him at the table as he looks up into the expectant faces. Scary! But he's got a good handle on things. We bet you could pay a fine pile of money to Syd Field and never learn as much as you can from John's blog, Kung Fu Monkey:
This may reveal my old pulp roots, but for a sci-fi/genre show, my rough stucture is: 1.) Wow, have we got a problem. It is Very Bad.
2.) Whoops, no, we have an entirely different problem, and it's far worse.
3.) That problem? Yeah, that's going to kill us.
4.) Solve the problem. Marvel at the emotional wreckage. Prep for next week.
Really, you've got 48 minutes. 6 two-minute scenes an act. TV isn't haiku, but it's damn close.