Posts tagged ‘writing for tv’

September 20, 2011

Quote of the Day: Matt Nix

Speed is crucial in TV. Under the pressure of production, you have to be able to bang out good scripts on a clock. A writer who can finish a solid draft in two months? They’re easy to find. I’m interested in the writer who can write that draft in two days.

September 15, 2011

TV Writer Spotlight: The Genres of One-Hour Drama

Chad Gervich, author of  Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business, recently shared his breakdown of what he sees as the four genres of television dramas. He also discusses how these generes can be mixed. Here’s an excerpt:


Procedurals are shows that derive their stories from a specific procedure, such as NCIS, House, or Criminal Minds. Each episode begins with the introduction of a problem, which our main characters must solve using their unique procedure. CSI uses forensics, The Practice used lawyers and the legal system, etc. Procedurals traditionally tell standalone stories — stories that have a complete beginning, middle, and end in each hour.

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June 7, 2011

Writing for Television — Lessons Learned at GAPF

Another thought-provoking session from last weekend’s Great American Pitchfest was entitled “Your Career in TV – The View from Both Sides.” The session was essentially a conversation between former Disney executive Kathie Fong Yoneda and Emmy-nominated writer Ellen Sandler.

The session was full of wise advice from both sides of the fence. Here are some highlights:

  • Succeeding in Hollywood, whether in film or television, is part magic, but it’s mostly hard work. Something lucky has to happen to you at some point, but when it does, you need to be ready for it, or that lucky break won’t get you anywhere. Take the time to network, perfect your scripts, learn your craft, and eventually, you’ll get there.
  • People are looking for you. But they can only find you if you put yourself out there. Join a writing group, go to conferences, go to screenwriting events,  volunteer at festivals, submit to contests, and always have your pitch ready to go. The industry can’t find you if you don’t help them out a bit.
  • Your odds of finding success in television (and film) go up dramatically the more you write. Being a prolific writer is key.
  • You need to be willing to network and to play the game. A good sense of politics is key. For the most part, this simply means being nice to everyone and not asking for favors before you’ve earned the right.
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April 7, 2011

Jane Espenson on Writing for Joss Whedon

This is an old article, but a worthwhile read, especially if you’re a diehard Whedon fan. Jane talks about the writing process in a Joss writer’s room:

Okay, first there is the idea. This is usually something that Joss brings in, and it always begins with the main character – in my case, almost always with Buffy. We spend a lot of time discussing her emotional state, and how we want her to change over the course of the season. Frequently this in itself will suggest a story area – we will find a story in which we explore her mental state metaphorically. The episode “Same Time, Same Place,” was centered around Willow… we wanted to explore her emotional distance from the other characters. This turned into a story in which no one could see or touch Willow and vice versa. The episode “Conversations with Dead People” dealt in part with Buffy’s ambivalent feelings about her calling. She explored the feelings during a mock therapy session with a vampire she was destined to kill. Notice that the episode ideas *begin* with “what is she going through” and never with “what would be a cool Slaying challenge?”.

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