Structuring Your 30 Minute Pilot: Your A, B and C Story - With 3 Free Pilot Script Downloads

Taught by Meghan Pleticha

Class Schedule (2 sessions):
Tuesday, Jun 22ND 1 - 2:30PM PDT
Tuesday, Jun 29TH 1 - 2:30PM PDT
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Class hosted by: Meghan Pleticha


Meghan Pleticha is television writer with ten years of entertainment industry experience who has most recently worked as a staff writer on HBO’s Emmy Nominated comedy series SILICON VALLEY. Her work has also appeared on Cartoon Network’s POWER PLAYERS, and in Escala, AeroMéxico’s official in-flight magazine. Previous to being staffed on television shows, she worked as a writer’s assistant and script coordinator for shows like FX’s MARRIED, ABC’s CHARITY CASE, and VH1’s HIT THE FLOOR. Meghan’s career as a writer as well as her experience teaching other aspiring creatives has given her powerful experience with television story structure, and she’s excited to bring what she’s learned to the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »


If you want to work as a TV writer, you need a great writing sample, and these days, that comes in the form of a pilot script. Writing a pilot is hard, though, and writing a great pilot is even harder. One of the most common pitfalls is failing to write a compelling story that showcases your characters and world. But it’s that story that will get a reader to finish the script. It’s that story that can help you get a job. Figuring out the best version of your pilot story often comes down to structuring the script into an A, B and C story. This will allow you to introduce your characters, world, and plot points while still maintaining a pace and shape to the episode. This is harder than it looks though.

Writing a great pilot script is such a tricky balancing act, ESPECIALLY for a 30-minute show. In just 30 pages, you need to establish your world, your characters, and your ongoing stories without overloading the audience with exposition and while still injecting the episode itself with its own story and arc. That’s a lot of plates to spin, but if you can’t nail your pilot’s structure, your characters and world won’t reach their full potential. But taking the time to get the story right will let your characters show who they really are and make your creative intent crystal clear. So how can you structure your own half hour pilot into an effective script with a clear A, B and C story? How can you find the balance and spin every plate so you can have a standout pilot script and writing sample that can get you the attention and opportunities you’re looking for?

Meghan Pleticha is television writer with ten years of entertainment industry experience who has most recently worked as a staff writer on HBO’s Emmy Nominated comedy series SILICON VALLEY. Her work has also appeared on Cartoon Network’s POWER PLAYERS, and in Escala, AeroMéxico’s official in-flight magazine. Previous to being staffed on television shows, she worked as a writer’s assistant and script coordinator for shows like FX’s MARRIED, ABC’s CHARITY CASE, and VH1’s HIT THE FLOOR. Meghan’s career as a writer as well as her experience teaching other aspiring creatives has given her powerful experience with television story structure, and she’s excited to bring what she’s learned to the Stage 32 community.

Over two intensive sessions, Meghan will dive deep into how to effectively structure a 30-minute TV pilot script, focusing on finding the pilot’s story and building it out with an A, B, and C story. In the first session, Meghan will dissect what makes a great A story for a pilot, discussing the goals you should have for this story as well as helpful strategies and secrets to bring it together. In the second session, Meghan will look deeper into B and C stories, how to integrate the into your A story, and how to use them to further define your series and world.


Plus! Meghan will be providing the full pilot scripts of FX’s ARCHER, NBC’s SUPERSTORE and Netflix’s GLOW, and will use these three pilots as examples as she illustrates what makes a well structure half hour pilot


"Writing pilots is hard! You have to come up with characters, a world, AND a story?! In script after script, I've seen writers spend so much time on the first two, the story gets lost. Even worse, without a strong pilot story, your world and characters won't reach their full potential. I love helping writers find the best structure for their show so their script can most accurately represent them and their idea. And I'm looking forward to doing that with Stage 32. See you in class!"

-Meghan Pleticha

What You'll Learn

Session 1: The A Story

  • What is an A story?
    • Context of steps – where are we in the writing process when you hammer out your A story?
    • What you need for a great pilot and how the A story fits into that
  • Your A story goal
    • Whose goal is it?
    • Series goal vs pilot story goal
    • Why do you need a goal?
    • What makes a good goal
    • As seen on TV examples
  • What to do if you’re stumped
    • Ways to research
    • Prompts for brainstorming
  • Once you have a goal, what’s the story?
    • Your active protagonist
    • As seen on TV examples
    • Characters as obstacles
    • Your protagonist’s actions as obstacles
    • Picking character actions
  • Putting your protagonist’s actions in a 3 act structure
    • Act breaks or no act breaks?
    • Starting with conflict (aka inciting incident)
    • Escalating conflict and basic 3 act structure
    • If you’re using act breaks, what an act out looks like
    • The importance of cause and effect
    • A resolved ending vs unresolved characters
  • Writing an outline
    • Industry standards
    • Why write an outline
    • For next time: B & C stories
  • Q&A with Meghan


Session 2: The B and C Stories

  • What are B and C stories?
    • Reminder of context: What is your A story?
    • The difference between B and C stories
  • What do to before you write your B and C stories
    • Context of steps – where are we in the writing process when you hammer out your B and C stories?
    • Defining what your show is about
    • Establishing your characters
    • Solidifying your A story (or not)
  • Your B story
    • How it compares to your A story
    • How it supports your A story
    • As seen on TV examples
    • B story goals: what are they and how are they different from A story goals?
    • Brainstorming B story actions
    • Structuring your B story
  • Integrating your B story with your A story
    • Looking at your established structure
    • Moving stuff around
    • Combining scenes
    • When to move on to your C story
  • Your C story
    • How substantial is your C story?
    • What is a good use of your C story?
    • Brainstorming C story beats
    • As seen on TV examples
  • Getting to a finished outline
    • Integrating your C story with the A and B stories
    • Using B and C stories to support the A story pacing
    • What finished outline looks like
    • Where do you put the act breaks?
  • Tying up loose ends
    • What to do with characters that didn’t make it into your A, B or C stories
    • How to know if it’s working
    • What to do if it isn’t
  • Next steps
    • Going to draft
    • Rewrites
  • Q&A with Meghan

About Your Instructor

Meghan Pleticha is television writer with ten years of entertainment industry experience who has most recently worked as a staff writer on HBO’s Emmy Nominated comedy series SILICON VALLEY. Her work has also appeared on Cartoon Network’s POWER PLAYERS, and in Escala, AeroMéxico’s official in-flight magazine. Previous to being staffed on television shows, she worked as a writer’s assistant and script coordinator for shows like FX’s MARRIED, ABC’s CHARITY CASE, and VH1’s HIT THE FLOOR. Meghan’s career as a writer as well as her experience teaching other aspiring creatives has given her powerful experience with television story structure, and she’s excited to bring what she’s learned to the Stage 32 community.


Session 1: The A Story - Tuesday June 22nd, 1pm-2:30pm PT

Session 2: The B and C Stories - Tuesday June 29th, 1pm-2:30pm PT


Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

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