nickelodeon writing fellowship – month 5


i turned in the final draft for my robot & monster spec. it was my first time writing an animated show, an 11 minute show, and a show i had never seen any episodes of. it was challenging, but fun! it was great to work with the eic (executive in charge) and get her notes on my script. the only thing that gave me a little hiccup was finding the right ending. it took a couple tries, but i’m happy with how it came out.

one of the things i learned while writing this was that with cg animated shows, you have to be very careful about including new characters, props, and sets. it takes a long time to design, model, and texture a cg asset, so you might only be allowed 2 new props for the episode.


for the first time, karen is letting fellows write pilot scripts during the fellowship. i actually started my pilot idea a year ago and was going to write it during my nights and weekends, but i’m really glad i’ll get to work on it during the fellowship and get notes from karen. if i don’t get staffed on a nick show by the time the fellowship is over, the pilot that i write is what will get me an agent.

writing a pilot is very different from writing a spec for an existing show. the pilot has to introduce characters and a world we’re not familiar with, tell the story of that episode, and serve as the template for every episode that follows. if you haven’t written any specs, i would highly recommend writing several specs before attempting a pilot. i think you need to see how others do it before you try doing it your own way.

even though everyone is writing a pilot, there isn’t that much info out there on how to write a pilot script. there are a few classes, but no books on the subject. there is a chapter in Writing Television Sitcoms about writing a pilot. it’s brief but informative. i took ellen sandler’s pilot writing workshop a year ago, which i highly recommend. i think she teaches an online workshop now. i also found these links which might be helpful.

john august

jane espenson

if anyone else has any links to share regarding writing a pilot, please share!

so far, i have the basic show premise, a list of characters and their relationships to each other, a short summary of what the story of the pilot script will be, and some thoughts on story arcs that might develop over several seasons.

i’m currently working on the outline for the pilot script, and trying to figure out the different storylines and the beats for each story.


we’re going to start working on new specs, so i did my usual research: i watched all the episodes in order and took notes as i watched, and i read at least 3 scripts, making note of how many acts, how many pages and scenes per act, how many storylines, etc.

i came up w/ 3 premises and turned them in. out of all the specs i’ve written so far, i think my 30 rock is my strongest writing sample. it’s the script that got me into the fellowship this year. however, i think the premise for this parks and rec is strong enough to beat that script. i’m really looking forward to writing it!


if you want to write comedy, you should take an improv class. seriously, just do it. i loved my level 1 class at io west with dave hill, and i loved my level 1 class at ucb with eugene cordero. the 2 classes were similar, but the io west class focused a bit more on character relationships, and the ucb class focused more on games (what’s unusual about that scene, and heightening that). one big difference is there is no class show for level 1 at io west, but there is one at ucb.

Similar Posts


  1. thanks for the link fonda! it was a great article. i feel the same as bobby bowman who didn’t get into the warner brothers writing program the first year, but made it in his second year better prepared.

  2. Good article Fonda.
    And good info kiyong.

    Writing pilots is all the rage now.
    I’ve heard two schools of thought. Some say craft your pilot like a typical episode of your “show”. And others say set the pilot up to show how your characters arrived at their “situation”
    I did the latter, for the first half of the pilot I showed how my main character arrived at their situation and for the second half I explored the “situation”. so I guess I gave the audience half of a typical episode.
    Which way do you feel is best to introduce a pilot?

    1. that john august article talks about the two kinds of pilots. i’ve heard people would rather read a pilot that’s a typical episode of your show, like something that could be episode 13 of season 1, instead of a premise pilot that introduces all of the characters to each other and sets up the story. then there are hybrids that do a little of both, as in 30 rock where liz, pete, and jenna already have their show, but jack is new, and he tells liz to hire tracy. mine is a hybrid but leans more towards typical episode.

Leave a Reply