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June 07 2010

Inside the TV writers room. Jane Espenson and others talk about what it's like writing for a tv show. It's a fascinating insight into the industry.

This is a really good read.
Agreed, I always love learning more about the behind-the-scenes stuff. In another life I'd love to be a tv writer. I love writing, and being creative, and their descriptions of the good writers rooms sounds like it'd be a really rewarding and enjoyable job.
I quibble with calling it a "roundtable", since it looks more like entirely separate Q&As stiched together, but the actual meat of the piece is pretty awesome.
Love reading about this stuff too and it really is my ambition to one day work in a similar environment. Don't know if I would be capable of being a writer - although, I do have some ideas I will write at some point when I am able to lock myself away, for my own enjoyment at the very least - but some part of the more creative side of the entertainment industry would be an incredible job.

Great read.
Yeah, it read as though each was given a questionnaire. There was no real interaction. That said, the whole was really interesting. Jeez but there would have to be some real chemistry among the writers to pull things off week in, week out. I can only imagine how terrible it would be to work for the guy who made all the writers compete against one another for scripts. That just seems wrong-headed from the get-go. I'd like to be the proverbial fly on the wall for a couple of these sessions, though. Must be fascinating to watch--especially with toys involved.
Cool article but yeah not a lot of bouncing ideas (though in fairness, I guess even if it was a proper roundtable they might not bounce too much if they don't really know each other that well - have any of these writers worked together ?).

I dunno how you'd capture what it's really like in a writer's room (because people are bound to be more restrained if they know they're being recorded and you can't break trust by recording without their knowledge) but i'd love to see one at full steam. When it's not working I bet it's hellish but when everything flows and ideas mesh and something amazing arises where previously there was nothing it must be a sight to see. Only with toys, cake and cracks about yo' momma ;).
Very interesting. Such a contrast between the writers working full steam under deadlines and the fans watching & re-watching and picking, picking, picking. :)
Nice article.

I dunno how you'd capture what it's really like in a writer's room (because people are bound to be more restrained if they know they're being recorded and you can't break trust by recording without their knowledge) but i'd love to see one at full steam.

There was a special feature on one of the DVD's of The Shield about the writers room where they had a camera inside while they broke a story. Who knows how much the camera restrained them, but it was still pretty interesting.
I imagine if you spent a week or so with a camera in a writers' room, by the end of it you'd be getting totally normal interactions once again. Especially if they were unmanned cameras, placed in each corner or something, so you could almost forget that they were there.

Anyway, this stuff is always nice to read, especially with the ABC/Disney fellowship deadline coming up. I'm constantly reminding myself how difficult it is to write a spec episode (mostly by putting it off and feeling guilty about it), it's nice to read stuff like this and boost my enthusiasm a little bit.
I imagine if you spent a week or so with a camera in a writers' room...

Replace "week or so" with "months" and there's a reality show pitch for you.
Interesting insights. I'd love to witness the breaking of a story and perhaps even be part of a writing team one day. I imagine creative fluidity would be just about the best feeling in the world. The stupid stick idea seems like an effective strategy, I know I'd definitely feel more comfortable pitching ideas.
If the reality show about the writers room gets good ratings, would it keep the series that they are actually writing from being cancelled?
They could always do a new series and writing room each episode or a new one each season. It increases the odds of seeing your favorite show or writer. Although I think a show following the same people over a longer period of time would be more enjoyable to watch.
I think even a scripted show portraying a writers room could be fun to watch, as long as it was more Southland than The Office. (In terms of realism)
That was a great read. There's nothing more fascinating to me that a glimpse into the behind the scenes creative process. I wouldn't want to see a reality show about it though - I doubt there's much actual reality in any of those shows, anyhow.

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