Reality television is the latest entertainment genre to take the public by storm at the turn of the 20th century. Based on the premise of unscripted events, reality TV can take many forms. There are game show-elimination formats, personality formats, docu-dramas and other game shows. Creating an outline for a reality TV show is very similar to the process of outlining a scripted show, only with less rigidity regarding the scripted dialogue of the characters.
Create a premise for your show. Decide what it is going to be about and what format it will be in. Give it an entertaining title. Often the title hints at or clearly identifies what the show is about. For example: “America’s Next Top Model” is about a group of young American women trying to win a modeling contract. “Jersey Shore” is about a group of young adults who rent a house in the New Jersey Shore. After deciding on your premise write a “logline” for your show. The logline is a one or two sentence description of your show.
Describe what tone the show will have. Along with detailing what format the show will be in, giving an indication of the tone is also important. Is it dramatic and sensational like “The Real World”? Or is it a sprawling competitive adventure like “The Amazing Race”? Game shows often have an element of comedy; some Japanese game shows are absurdly comedic in tone.
List the characters of the show. This element comes into play more often when the format of the show is a “scripted” reality show, such as “The Real World,” “The Hills” or “Jersey Shore.” While the show features real people, these people are cast based upon “type.” For example: The macho guy, the diva, the vixen, the ladies man, the shy girl, the nerd and so on. When writing the outline give as much information as possible about the type of characters that will populate the show.
Give a brief explanation of a typical episode. Outline how the show will work. Detail where the action takes place, what will happen, how the characters will interact, and whether prizes will be won or lost.
Write short descriptions of future episodes. Give short descriptions of at least four or five additional episodes. This allows whoever is reading the outline to see how the show will progress of the course of a season.