But before I formally kick off this column, I thought it might be useful to explain just what it’s all about…and what it’s not going to be about.
As this is my first time taking a stab at blogging, the exact nature of the column may evolve as time goes by.
However, my paranoid mind can’t help but anticipate some confusion about what kinds of things we’ll be covering in this space, so it’s probably best that I get a quick little introduction out of the way first.
WHAT THIS COLUMN IS
Writers’ Room 101 is nuts-and-bolts guide to the TV drama writing process. The goal is to give you a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the entire process (from pitching ideas to writing drafts to how the writer functions on set), but mainly, we’ll be exploring what goes on inside the drama writers’ room.
To be even more specific, what I’ll be doing here is sharing some of the things that I wish someone had sat me down and told me when I first starting writing for television. Not that anyone deliberately withheld secrets from me (that I know of…), but there are tons of unspoken, unwritten rules that writers are somehow expected to just know. Nine times of out ten, beginning writers have no idea they’ve broken a rule until they’ve already done so, or come dangerously close. So if I can help just one writer avoid making one major mistake, I’ll consider that a win.
WHAT THIS COLUMN IS NOT
Some of the things I won’t be addressing are:
- Behind-the-scenes gossip about this show or that show
- Advice on how to get an agent and/or manager
- Advice on what spec script you should write
- Advice on how to write query letters
- Where, when, and how to sell your pilot script
- How to find a writer to write that awesome script you can see so clearly in your head…because you’re more of an “idea person”
- Why all the good shows keep getting canceled
I could go on, but you get the idea.
We’re going to drill down on the ins and outs of the writers’ room. There’s actually a lot that goes on, so that’ll be our primary focus. We might deviate from it on occasion, but those times will most likely be fairly infrequent.
WHO THIS COLUMN IS FOR
(Yes, that should probably say “whom” instead of “who.” I tried it that way. Didn’t feel right. So I went with my gut and decided to not overthink it. This is me not overthinking it. Let’s move on.)
Because there are so many unquestionably brilliant TV writers who are a.) far more experienced that I am, and b.) kind enough to make themselves available via social media, it would be foolish of me to try and portray myself as an expert on their level (and if you’re serious about your craft, you already know who these people are and where to find them).
With that in mind, and as you can probably tell by the title of this column, Writers’ Room 101 seeks to fill a different niche. This is intended for writers looking to break into TV writing, or those who’ve just landed their first or second staff gig, and are still learning the ropes. Oh, and it’s also for anyone who just has a genuine interest in this topic. Everyone’s welcome.
THE GOLDEN RULE
As you read these columns, there is one essential thing to keep in mind. And if you only take away one thing from Room Notes, let it be this:
Every Room Is Different
Please remember that. It is critically important.
In other words, nothing that I write here is intended to be the be-all and end-all of how writers’ rooms function everywhere. I need to say this here in order to avoid repeating it in every single column going forward.
Some rooms work insanely long hours. Some rooms stop for the day at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. on the dot. In some rooms, the writers sit around a long conference table, while in others, writers lounge on sofas or in plush comfy chairs as they break stories. Some showrunners are extremely kind people who create nurturing environments for their writers. Others…aren’t and don’t.
So at some point, I’ll probably say “X happens in a writers’ room,” and you’ll be tempted to point out, “Well, my friend works on [name of show], and THEY don’t do it that way!”
Please don’t. There’s no need. Chances are, we’re both right. Why? Because every room is different.
All right. That should just about do it. I’m going to wrap this up so we can really get things started in the next column.
Bookmark the link for all of Eric’s Writers’ Room 101 articles.
Get more TV writing help with our webinar,
10 Steps to Developing a Killer TV Pilot