Want to work as a writer in the film or television industry? Maybe you want to ramp up your experience and move out from a video production office job and into the world of writing?

One of the most crucial jobs in the film or TV industry is writing. When you have the capacity to write, you can bring your stories to life. And if television is a place where you want to begin, writing your own spec script could be a good start for you.

But wait, what’s a spec script?

Short for “speculative script,”it’s a script you write for free to showcase your skills and hopefully get you hired for a writing job. Just like artists have a portfolio to showcase, the writer often has a collection of spec scripts they can show to Hollywood folks.

Remember, a movie spec is often designed to sell the actual script you’ve written whereas a television spec is made to sell your skills as a writer. When writing a spec script, you can write for an existing television show or create an original piece of work.

Here are the steps you can take:

1. What Kind of TV Writer Do You Want To Be?

Before starting, take a step back and think about what kind of writer you want to be? Do you prefer to be a comedy writer or like horror better? Do you prefer drama or romantic stories? Even if you may be talented in different genres, when starting out, it’s best to pick just one genre and focus on that first.

2. Figure Out Which Sample Episode You Will Write

As mentioned, you can pick your favorite television show or series and create a sample episode for it. It’s best to pick a show that is well-known among the industry or your audience. Remember, you’re trying to win over possible agents, writers, producers and managers. Pick a show with “buzz” around it, sometimes this allows for the excitement of your potential readers to affect how they feel about your script.

3. Make Sure You Understand Your Chosen Show’s Format

Once you’ve picked a show. Watch as many episodes as you can and break it down. Think as if you’re already a writer for the show and follow the format. You can also track down existing scripts if possible so you can study it. Make sure it’s a script and not the transcript of the show – which is just the dialogue transcription of an episode.

While watching, ask yourself, is the show a 3 or 4-act structure? How many “stories” does it consist? What is the prominent story (A) and the lesser story (B)? There might even be another small story line running through everything. Make sure to be familiar with the character’s background. Ask what makes them interesting, how did they react to the situation they’re being placed in?

4. Get To Writing

For many writers, this is the most exciting and also the most terrifying part. Some writers great with an outline first, while others prefer to just free write and then edit their way from there. Whichever option works best for you, do it. Your best bet is to make sure you write true-to-the feel and spirit of the show.

These are the first four steps you need to take as you create your own spec script. Part 2 will discuss the rest of the steps. In the meantime, get started on these first four things.