Hey, everyone. Michael Jamin. So part two of What Does a Showrunner Look For When Reading a Script? At least, what do I look for? So the first part, I explained that the story has to start within the first few pages, and if it doesn’t, I toss it, right? And you’re like, “But wait a minute, it was just getting good. It was going to get good around page 10 or 12.”

Well, too bad, right? And you’re the same way. You’re no better than I am. If you’re watching a TV show or a movie and you can’t get into it, are you going to just stick around? Are you going to change the channel and find something else that does grab your interest? So you’re no different, we’re all the same. You’ve got to get that story going.

So what’s the other thing that I look for? Well, I always want to see that the first act break pops. So when I write a script, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a half-hour sitcom, an hour long drama, or an hour-and-a-half feature. I always break down the script into about eight points, which I always keep in my mind when we’re writing or first outlining the idea. And one of those moments is that first act break. That first act break has to pop.

And what does that mean? It means it kind of has to promise something so that if you were to go to a commercial, you’re audience should be like, “Ooh, I’m not going anywhere. I want to find out where this goes.” Now, even if you’re writing a movie or an episode of a streaming network where there are no commercial breaks, it’s still important to have that first act break moment because it just feels good. It’s just how you tell a story. There’s something about that that makes your story feel like, “Ooh, I’m advancing the story and I want to know what’s going to happen next.” So that first act break has to pop. It has to feel earned.

It can’t just come out of nowhere, but it has to feel like, “Ooh, okay. I want to know what’s going to happen now.” And this may seem obvious, but believe me, I read a lot of scripts and it’s very rare to get to see an act break that pops. And, well, not extremely rare, but from a new writer, it’s kind of rare. So in the course, I go into great detail. I don’t just say, “Hey, it has to pop.” I kind of show you how to do all this and it’s just more than I can do in a 30-second video, but that first act break has to pop. Okay.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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