11 Steps to Serious TV Writing Mastery

1) Watch More TV

Before getting started, you might want to grab yourself a notebook and couple of pens. Then slip into something comfy, roll onto the couch, and get to work. Watch everything. Watch anything. This is your opportunity to catch up on that TIVO list, or upgrade to the five-a-month Netflix plan. Try to see as many episodes of your favorite shows as possible, and even sludge through a few that you hate. But don’t let yourself drift into that magical, mushy, sunken-eye dysphoria that we’ve all experienced after a couple of hours in front of the tube. If you’re seeing stars, or having trouble remembering your children’s names, then it’s time to turn it off. Remember—this is your homework, and your job number-one is to stay engaged. As you watch, write down interesting plot points or dialogue that seems especially funny or effective. Ask yourself questions, such as: Why did I laugh at that joke? Why did I break a sweat just before that commercial break? Why did I get bored and flip the channel? Write down your thoughts. This will be an essential reference as you delve into your own material and work to create scenarios that will affect your audience in the same ways that you were affected. By logging your responses, you’ll also gain insight into your own likes and dislikes, and this will be an especially useful tool in choosing your script genre and format. So get to it! Grab that popcorn, flip open your notebook, and get ready to indulge in hours-upon-hours of guilt-free TV!

[Script Frenzy]

I’m going to start doing this.


Click through for full list.


Boardwalk Empire, Written by Meg Jackson, Lawrence Konner, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Margaret Nagle, Tim Van Patten, Paul Simms, Terence Winter; HBO

Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Tom Schnauz, John Shiban, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC

Dexter, Written by Scott Buck, Manny Coto, Charles H. Eglee, Lauren Gussis, Chip Johannessen, Jim Leonard, Clyde Phillips, Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Tim Schlattmann, Wendy West; Showtime

Friday Night Lights, Written by Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Ron Fitzgerald, Etan Frankel, Monica Henderson, David Hudgins, Rolin Jones, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Derek Santos Olson, John Zinman; NBC

Mad Men, Written by Jonathan Abrahams, Lisa Albert, Keith Huff, Jonathan Igla, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Brett Johnson, Janet Leahy, Erin Levy, Tracy McMillan, Dahvi Waller, Matthew Weiner; AMC


30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Hannibal Buress, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Vali Chandrasekaran, Tina Fey, Jon Haller, Steve Hely, Matt Hubbard, Dylan Morgan, Paula Pell, John Riggi, Josh Siegal, Ron Weiner, Tracey Wigfield; NBC

Glee, Written by Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy; Fox

Modern Family, Written by Jerry Collins, Paul Corrigan, Alex Herschlag, Abraham Higginbotham, Elaine Ko, Joe Lawson, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC

Nurse Jackie, Written by Liz Brixius, Rick Cleveland, Nancy Fichman, Liz Flahive, Jennifer Hoppe-House, Mark Hudis, Linda Wallem, Christine Zander; Showtime

The Office, Written by Jennifer Celotta, Daniel Chun, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Brent Forrester, Amelie Gillette, Charlie Grandy, Steve Hely, Jonathan A. Hughes, Mindy Kaling, Carrie Kemper, Jason Kessler, Paul Lieberstein, Warren Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Peter Ocko, Robert Padnick, Aaron Shure, Justin Spitzer, Gene Stupnitsky, Halsted Sullivan, Jon Vitti; NBC


Boardwalk Empire, Written by Meg Jackson, Lawrence Konner, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Margaret Nagle, Tim Van Patten, Paul Simms, Terence Winter; HBO

Justified, Written by Dave Andron, Wendy Calhoun, Benjamin Cavell, Fred Golan, Gary Lennon, Benjamin Daniel Lobato, Chris Provenzano, Graham Yost; FX

Men of a Certain Age, Written by Bridget Bedard, Tucker Cawley, Warren Hutcherson, Rick Muirragui, Jack Orman, Ray Romano, Mike Royce, Lew Schneider, Mark Stegemann; TNT

Treme, Written by Lolis Eric Elie, David Mills, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, Tom Piazza, Davis Rogan, David Simon; HBO

The Walking Dead, Written by Frank Darabont; Charles H. Eglee, Adam Fierro, Robert Kirkman, Jack LoGiudice, Glen Mazzara; AMC

I wonder which one of the 100 The Office writers is responsible for the “that’s what she said” jokes?

“I had a lot of survival jobs. One was for the Witty Ditty singing-telegram company. I was in the red-and-white stripes with the straw boater hat and kazoo. Balloons. Even when you’re sleeping on a friend’s couch, you have to pay some sort of rent.”
— Aaron Sorkin


agrammar: There is this thing currently going around tumblr about why dating a writer is good. I think it’s nice that this thing is going around, because I like writers, and lots of us could use more dates. As a writer who has dated people, though — including other writers — I would like to…

(via youmightfindyourself)



Rejection Slip of the Day: How the now-defunct Essanay Film Manufacturing Company — home to Charlie Chaplin’s THE TRAMP — rejected screenwriters whose work wasn’t up to snuff.

[via oldhollywood]

Rather outstanding. The next time I comment on a blog post, I’m using this.

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
Ernest Hemingway, on the loss of a suitcase containing work from his first two years as a writer (via iwl)
“Only bad writers think that their work is really good.”