Writing for Reality Television

In this course, you’ll learn what makes great reality shows tick, how they’re produced from pre-production through post, and even what it takes to get started in the often seemingly counterintuitive world of writing for reality television.

Tailored for beginners and mid-career writers interested in exploring the opportunities reality television offers in today’s media marketplace, this course was composed by one of the industry’s busiest and most recognizable reality television writer/producers. The 12-part course covers everything from a basic understanding of the genre to its process, winding down with the development of an original reality television show concept.
You will work with the writer/producer on various assignments over the course and have the opportunity to receive critical feedback along the way.



Required Reading:

Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market

Workshop Length:

12 weeks

Start Date:

View Course Schedule



  • To develop an understanding of how to begin a career in reality television production
  • To examine the preproduction, production and post-production process
In this online writing course you will learn:
  • The origins of reality television
  • An understanding of how it became the global phenomenon it is today
  • How to get the best results from your cast
  • How to yield compelling source material
  • To create your own show
  • How to take your show to market



Session One: Introduction to Reality Television
  • Story is Story, and Story is Written: The Role of the Hidden Storyteller in Reality TV
  • A Brief History of Reality Television
Session Two: The Seven, or Seventy, or Seven Hundred Kinds of Reality Shows
  • Reality Genres and Subgenres
  • Understanding the Hybrid Series
Session Three: The Reality Effect
  • How Reality Has Changed Traditionally Scripted Shows
  • The Reality Genre as Fodder for Traditionally Scripted Television
Session Four: The Reality of Reality (Understanding the Production Hierarchy)
  • Overview of Production Hierarchy
Session Five: Preproduction
  • Reviewing Past Episodes and Casting Materials
  • Downloading With Your Producers
  • Sketching Out Your Profile Interviews
  • The Preliminary Outline
Session Six: Production
  • Field notes and hot sheets
  • Interviews
  • Set Etiquette
  • What To Do When the Shoot Goes South
Session Seven: Postproduction
  • Adding Stakes in Post
  • Composing a stringout (Paper Cut vs. Avid/Final Cut Pro)
  • Act Breaks
  • Teases
  • Rough Cut / Fine Cut / Locked Cut
Session Eight: Getting to Work (and how, because you can’t write a spec)
  • Entry Level Positions
  • Building a Reputation on an Invisible Job
  • Ethics
  • Networking in the Reality Community / Broader Television Community
  • Professional Organizations
  • Maximizing IMDb and other Resume and Credit Websites.
Session Nine: Creating Your Own Show (Part One)
  • The Workable Concept
  • The Pitch
Session Ten: Creating Your Own Show (Part Two)
  • The One Sheet
  • The Sizzle Reel
Session Eleven: Creating Your Show (Part Three)
  • The One Sheet
  • The Sizzle Reel
Session Twelve: Closing Remarks
  • Closing discussion; Community review of select pitches