Where to begin? That’s usually the first thought every writer has when they stare at the blinking cursor on a Word doc.
Ironically, there’s no correct answer. You start where it makes the most sense to do so. But, if nothing makes sense – here’s everything you need to know to find order in the chaos.
Let’s use my latest release, Thank You For Sharing as a case study.
It starts with an idea.
The idea for the podcast was pretty simple. There’s a man named Chip who lives on an island. He knows a little bit about everything, and he wants to share his knowledge with you.
You build on this idea.
That in itself is not much of a premise. So, we thought we’d add a sketch comedy element to it. Now, Chip’s fact of the day is sponsored by a hilarious and over-the-top commercial for a totally fake product.
Each episode now flows like this: Commercial for fake product or service, followed by an interesting fact from Chip, followed by a real-life use case of the product that sponsored the episode.
You want to have a definitive start, middle, and endpoint. Once you have that, the rest is just details.
Congrats! You now have a pilot in place. Your work is only just beginning.
What happens after the pilot?
You’ll have to have a season breakdown in mind. It helps direct you when you’re lost.
Here’s an example.
Plot: A racecar driver is desperate for one last championship run. His family hates the risks he takes and wants him to stop. He promises this will be his last hurrah.
Here’s what the first season would look like:
Episode 1 – Racecar driver is introduced. His family hates what he does. You introduce his pit crew, well-wishers, and bitter rivals.
Episode 2 – There’s a qualifier taking place for the race, and the conditions are terrible. It’s raining, and lots of cars have skidded off, and a racer is even critically injured. Will our man survive this?
Episode 3 – Our man qualifies. But, he’s at the bottom of the pack. He has one eliminator to go, and then there’s the final race. Will he make it?
Episode 4 – Our man almost gets eliminated! But, he’s managed to come in and clinch the last qualifying spot. It’s the grand prix next, and now he must get ready for that. His family beg him to stop while he’s ahead. The last race is in the deadliest racetrack of all time.
Episode 5 – This is the finale. Our speedy boy must now do or die. In this episode, he climbs the ladder, and moves up each position. Remembering what it has taken him to get this far. He loses control and spills out, but he manages to come back on track, and even win the race! He retires. Everyone wins. Woohoo.
Obviously, this is an oversimplification of the process, but it should at least guide you on your quest of making sense of the madness. If you clicked on this article, that means that you have an idea, and want to do it the right way. This is good, because as I mentioned at the top of this article – it all starts with an idea.
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