A practical guide to how TV is made, from bright idea to syndication.
A raft of instructors from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (including director Venis) and a pool of professional TV writers whose credits include such series as Mad Men, Frasier and The Simpsons guide aspiring TV writers through the process of joining the ranks of small-screen scribes, from drafting a first script to thriving in a writers’ room to pitching an original series. The advice is clear and specific. The contributors break down precisely how scripts are developed and shaped, explicating the culture and protocols of the TV writing community and providing a detailed account of exactly how words on a page become sexy doctors and squabbling families on the tube. There is no small amount of repetition from chapter to chapter, as the various professionals employ a similarly encouraging and humorous tone as they point out the many pitfalls and frustrations (and occasional triumphs) of the business, and much of the terminology and pointers remain constant whether one is writing a spec script for a half-hour comedy or pitching an original idea for an hourlong dramatic pilot. Savvy readers may note a conspicuous absence of real-world perspective regarding the neophyte’s chances of “making it,” which is not surprising considering the book’s origins at a writers’ program, and the ambitious auteur may despair at the insistence on formulaic approaches, but Venis corrals an accessible and useful guide for anyone with the dream and the drive who needs to know, practically, what to do.
An engaging and helpful how-to for hopeful TV writers or anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of this ephemeral art.