Program Recap: NYWIFT Masterclass Series: Writing for TV

Translating Your Idea to the Big Screen in NYWIFT’s inaugural Masterclass program

By Jean Criss

Introducing critically-acclaimed writer Amy Fox, who led a three-week consecutive NYWIFT Masterclass on creative practice, storytelling fundamentals, and developing your TV pilot script. If you haven’t ever written a script, or need a refresher course, tips, coaching, or guidance about how to translate an idea to the big screen, information about how to produce your TV show, series, or film, what technology to use, etc., this masterclass was for you.

Powerful television can shape hearts, change minds, and expand worldviews with memorable characters and riveting plots. You have your story idea – the difficult part is learning to translate that idea to the screen. This three-part masterclass broke down the building blocks that help you focus on the foundation to write an original narrative TV pilot.

Writers at all levels were encouraged to register. Those participating gained marketable skills and renewed passion, from those writing their first script to more experienced writers looking to dive into their next project and refresh their approach.

NYWIFT Masterclass Series: Writing for Television – with a summary of tips, takeaways, and topics.

SESSION 1: CREATIVE PRACTICE (Monday, October 16, held 6:30 – 8pm ET)

Session 1 focused on creative practice. Do you have a process that gets you writing and keeps you on track? How do you stay accountable? Do you know how to set realistic priorities for the work that really matters to you and your career? How do you get started to begin the process of taking an idea from imagination and notes to create a script, a pitch document, or a TV pilot?

Amy highlighted the types of things to think about when creating a show. The form and length, episodes, genre, network/streaming/cable, and structure. She focused on honing your craft , engaging the audience, and the business and market conditions that affect how you write.

SESSION 2: CRAFT FUNDAMENTALS: BUILDING STORY (Monday, October 23, held 6:30 – 8pm ET)

Session 2 focused on craft, with a review of story structure and character development, and actionable concrete tools to apply the lesson to the script you’re writing now.

She provided the group a sample script from Netflix ’s Dead to Me as a guided assignment to the participants for the workshop. She discussed that a pilot script is an introduction to your show or series, and the message you will communicate is a bigger story. Your pitch or deck is the intro to get someone interested in your idea.

When developing material there are many things to consider.  Where will the show be set? What is the theme? Who are the characters? What is the form and tone? Who is the ideal audience? How do the characters differ? Who are the characters you will see, week to week. What is their conflict and where are you leaving them in the story? Think about sample story lines, series arc, and beats..

What is the most persuasive – pitch or script? Her advice is to prepare for both. It’s best to have the pilot written in case you are asked to show it to someone. The pitch may simply highlight the entire series or show and not dive into the detail as much.

SESSION 3: DEVELOPING YOUR SCRIPT (Monday, October 30, held 6:30 – 8pm ET)

Session 3 gave you a chance to dive deeper into your specific project, as you work out the beats of your pilot and the voices of your characters to bring your story to life.

In our final session, we discussed that your outline does not need to be neat or complete. Write and follow your gut to get it on paper, then apply more craft  afterwards. Know why you are writing a pilot. Is it a creative writing practice, or do want to sell a show, or get staffed on a project? Producers are looking, your voice, your, POV (point of view), your perspective on the story.

Plot vs Story. Plot is a series of events. Story is where the plot meets character (more depth and choices that affect characters along their journey).

Amy also discussed developing the character’s mindset, what external/internal forces of conflict they struggle with.

She gave the creative writers a chance to share their pilot stories and gain feedback. Writers were guided in their descriptions via the following questions:    

  1. Tell us three things about the character and finish the sentences with adjectives (e.g., they are . . . ).  
  2. What does this person want MOST in the FIRST SEASON of this show?
  3. What INTERNAL and EXTERNAL forces are they battling?
  4. In one oversimplified sentence, summarize how your character changes (if they do change) by the end of the SEASON.


Check out our Masterclass Series full house!



Amy closed by sharing her Q4 2023 mini-script workshop series which costs $600. Sign up here: https://forms.gle/g4DRNoMNDJG9H98H9



About the NYWIFT Masterclass Series Program

The NYWIFT Masterclass Series offers in-depth virtual multi-class workshops that explore various aspects of the film, television, and media industry. Led by award-winning experts, the classes will teach students about the craft, content, and business strategies involved in each creative pursuit, building a solid foundation for artistic fulfillment and commercial success.

2023 NYWIFT Masterclasses will include TV Writing, Podcasting, and Budgeting, with more to be announced soon.      Again, thank you for joining us on the Masterclass Series with award-winning, innovative leaders to guide us, help improve our skills, and advance our knowledge together in order to build a stronger more inclusive industry together.

The next NYWIFT Masterclass is Feature Film Budgeting with producer Sirad Balducci! In this three-part masterclass, we will demystify the budgeting process, offering insights into script breakdown and shoot schedules and covering fundamental budgeting basics. We’ll explore how to effectively collaborate with producers, directors, and department heads, and impart strategies to align your movie’s production plan with the creative vision of the project. The program starts December 4, 2023. Learn more and register here!

About the Instructor

Amy Fox brought a wealth of knowledge as an acclaimed screenwriter who has written for theater, film, and TV, known for her sharp sense of humor and gripping storytelling. Most recently, she was a Co-Producer on The Conners on ABC. She wrote the script for the financial thriller Equity, which stars Anna Gunn. The film premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released in theaters nationwide. Amy’s first film, Heights, also premiered at Sundance, and was released in 2005, starring Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Glenn Close.

Amy’s scripts have been honored by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Eugene O’Neill Center, and The Creative Coalition. Amy is also a widely respected educator and mentor. She has helped hundreds of emerging filmmakers bring their stories to life during her decade as a faculty member and Head of Writing at NYU’s Tisch Graduate Film Program. Amy is a passionate advocate for elevating diverse voices in the arts, and serves as a mentor for several writing labs, including NYWIFT’s The Writers Lab and Cin story.

After nearly 25 years in New York, in 2020 Amy lured her husband and two children away from their home in Brooklyn with the promise of a sunnier life in Los Angeles. Having grown up in Colorado, she feels right at home in a place with beautiful mountains and no decent bagels.


Jean Criss Author, Writer, Blogger, Entrepreneur

Jean Criss Author, Writer, Blogger, Entrepreneur Jean Criss is Contributing Writer for NYWIFT Communications Committee where she thrives on bringing engaging community and communications in writing, blogs and at LIVE events. Jean is an author, writer, columnist, digital media-preneur, tech innovator, and fashion designer. NYWIFT published articles and other press and weblinks are found here: https://linktr.ee/jeancriss.

View all posts by Jean Criss Author, Writer, Blogger, Entrepreneur

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