How Writing a TV Show Works

Television Show Loglines

Now that the concept is on paper, you'll need a logline to make it ready to present to a network. A logline is a one- or two-line synopsis of the concept. It is an essential part of presenting or marketing your idea to the networks and is typically used in tandem with the treatment or script.

The act of composing a logline forces you to condense your thoughts to the bare essentials of what the show is about and why folks will want to watch it. It also allows you to focus on the hook or plot twist. Successful loglines immediately provoke interest and make the network executives envision the show's potential. If they see potential, odds are they will consider it for development.

Many TV execs consider the logline to be the most important element of the development process, and the network often uses some version of it for marketing. In that respect, loglines are considered to be similar to the description of a show you would find in TV Guide.

The TV Writers Vault offers these examples of possible loglines for "The Bachelor" and "American Idol":

"Twenty women will court and compete to win the affections of one man who will narrow the selection until he must decide on his one true love."

"Aspiring singers will compete in a nationwide talent search on live television where they will face the often unfair scrutiny and sarcasm of a panel of judges before one is finally branded the 'American Idol,' receiving a recording contract."

Once you have put all of this together (after many rewrites and read-throughs), you'll need to protect your concept, script or treatment. Most people register it with the Writer's Guild of America, West Registry.

When you're sure everything is pitch-perfect, it's time to try to sell your idea to a network. We'll learn all about that process in an upcoming article. For more information about writing a TV show, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Cook, Martie. "Write to TV: Out of Your Head and Onto the Screen." Focal Press, 2007.
  • Epstein, Alex. "Crafty TV Writing : Thinking Iinside the Box." Owl Books, 2006.
  • Finer, Abby and Deborah Pearlman. "Starting your Television Writing Career: The Warner Bros. Television Writers Workshop Guide." Syracuse University Press, 2004.
  • Internet Movie Database.
  • Sandler, Ellen. "The TV Writer's Workbook: a Creative Approach to Television Scripts." Bantam Dell, 2007.