A New Writing the Pilot book!

No, it’s not the long awaited sequel, Writing the Pilot: Five Great Pilots. That’s still in progress…pretty much at the same pace as the next Song of Ice and Fire. But until George R. R. Martin does figure out how to finish his epic story after killing off just about every interesting character — I mean, until my sequel is done — this new book is a great accompaniment to the first volume.

If you’ve read Writing the Pilot, you probably remember that the book’s center is devoted to an analysis of the process Lee Goldberg and I used in adapting Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah character into a pilot for CBS. It’s a step by step guide to the choices that we had to make in figuring out how to turn a series of books into a TV series, and I think it’s a pretty good demonstration of the kind of work that goes into writing any pilot.

The only thing that was missing for me was the fact that while you could follow our thoughts up to a point, you couldn’t see what they added up to. Because, alas, the pilot was never shot and the script existed only on our hard drives (and possibly in a storage closet at the network).

Until now. Until this:


Our pilot script is now a book, Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah: The Pilot Script. And not only the script, but the pitch/treatment we used to sell the project, the story areas for future episodes we included when we turned in the script, and a brand new introduction by Lee and me, along with a new forward by the Thurlos.

It’s available at Amazon for the Kindle for only $2.99 — where it is currently #6 on the list of television screenwriting books, just four places back from Writing the Pilot — and if the beautiful edition I just received in the mail is any indication, it’s about to be available in a gorgeous paperback.

11 thoughts on “A New Writing the Pilot book!

  1. Hi Bill,

    This is Hannah.

    I took your Intro to Screenwriting through the Edge2go program during the summer and it has helped me a lot. I had a question that has been running through my brain the last couple of days that has to do with picking talent agents. (I may have asked this while taking the Screenwriting class, but I don’t remember.)

    Does it hurt to go head with the top notch talent agencies, even though they may not pick you or go straight to the manger side?

    Looking forward to reading to reading the Aimee and David Thurlo’s Ella Clah: The Pilot Script book.


    • Hi Hannah — Nice to see you here. There are pluses and minuses to being at a big agency — power on the one hand; the possibility of getting lost on the other — but it’s really not something you’re going to need to worry about until you’ve got three really rock-solid scripts ready to be read.

  2. Cool! Can’t wait to read it, Bill. I have a request. In your book, you stated the central conflict or theme of Buffy is: “How do you choose between your deepest personal desire and your obligation to the world?” I was wondering if, in one of your posts, you could give a few more examples of current TV show themes, and how those central conflicts worked or failed to work for them. For instance, Mad Men, a show in which the plot can move very slowly, seems to be fueled by its theme to a greater extent than most. But what IS its central theme or those of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the recent “Masters of Sex” and a procedural like “Elementary?” And what new or current show do you feel, like “Nip Tuck,” is hamstrung by a weak or misplaced central conflict?

    Melissa P

    • Hi Melissa — Well, you’ve cleverly managed to pick three shows for which I don’t have an answer. I’ve only seen a couple of Elementary episodes, missed Masters of Sex entirely due to lack of Showtime, and strongly suspect the theme of Grey’s Anatomy is “can Bill make it through more than three minutes of this without driving an icepick through his brain?” But I can try another example, and that’s the very strongly thematic Sons of Anarchy, which is about a family man who will sacrifice anything for the three families that he leads — wife/kids, mother, club — but who finds their needs in direct opposition to each other.

      As for a show hamstrung by a weak conflict, have you tried Hawaii Five-0?

      • Hah! I believe the theme of Hawaii Five-O is bang, bang, ba bang, bang, boom, crash, bang, bang, bang…

  3. Hi Bill.

    This is Hannah once again. I was going to let you know that I have finished the script that I worked on during the class through Edg2go last year with a friend of mine. (The one that was based off the book).

    And since I’m still waiting on calls from agencies and having any luck on finding any names to address in the opening paragraph. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what I should do.



    • Hi Hannah — Congratulations on finishing the script and sending it out. I hate to give you the same advice that every other writer would, but the best thing for you do now is… to start another script. And if you finish that before you start hearing back, start another one after that. It’s just about the only thing that will take your mind off the waiting… and you’ll end up not only with multiple scripts, but as a better writer!

      • I really need to get back on writing. This is technically the second script that we wrote together though the first is kinda on the back burner right now (adding a new character to it). I do have couple of projects that I need to get back on.
        And thanks for tip.

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