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TV Writing On Demand

Book Description

TV Writing On Demand: Creating Great Content in the Digital Era takes a deep dive into writing for today’s audiences, against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving TV ecosystem. Amazon, Hulu and Netflix were just the beginning. The proliferation of everything digital has led to an ever-expanding array of the most authentic and engaging programming that we’ve ever seen. No longer is there a distinction between broadcast, cable and streaming. It’s all content. Regardless of what new platforms and channels will emerge in the coming years, for creators and writers, the future of entertainment has never looked brighter.

This book goes beyond an analysis of what makes great programming work. It is a master course in the creation of entertainment that does more than meet the standards of modern audiences—it challenges their expectations. Among other essentials, readers will discover how to:

  • Satisfy the binge viewer: analysis of the new genres, trends and how to make smart initial decisions for strong, sustainable story. Plus, learn from the rebel who reinvented an entire format.
  • Develop iconic characters: how to foster audience alignment and allegiance, from empathy and dialogue to throwing characters off their game, all through the lens of authenticity and relatability.
  • Create a lasting, meaningful career in the evolving TV marketplace: how to overcome trips, traps and tropes, the pros and cons of I.P.; use the Show Bible as a sales tool and make the most of the plethora of new opportunities out there.

A companion website offers additional content including script excerpts, show bible samples, interviews with television content creators, and more. Although the companion website is still under construction, you can reach out to John Makowski (John.Makowski@taylorandfrancis.com) in order to receive all online content.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Introduction
    1. Peak TV vs. Pique TV: The Streaming Smorgasbord
    2. How to Navigate TV Writing On Demand
  7. Part I Satisfying the Binge Viewer: New Genres, Formats and Trends
    1. 1 Blurring the Lines: Redefining Genre and Tone in the Dramedy
      1. How Did We Get Here?
      2. Dramedies and Life on the Cringe
      3. Female-Driven Dramedies
      4. You‘re the Worst: The Anti-Romantic Dramedy
      5. Baskets and Lives in Disarray
      6. Satire as the Weapon of Reason in Dear White People
      7. I Love Dick: Exploring the “Female Gaze”
      8. Master of the Observational: Master of None
      9. Better Things: Philosophical Vignettes
      10. Love and Death in Atlanta
      11. Bonus Content: Further analysis on dramedies, including the rise of the genre, Catastrophe and Casual
    2. 2 The Slow-Burn, Season-Long Procedural: From Murder One and Twin Peaks to The Night Of, Fargo, Search Party and More
      1. The Season-Long Mystery
      2. The Mystery Underlying the Crime: The Night Of
      3. The Good Fight : The Procedural Within a Procedural
      4. Search Party: Something From Nothing
      5. Fargo Is a State of Mind
      6. Truth and Consequences
      7. Bonus Content: American Crime, True Detective Season 1, Riverdale, Medici: Masters of Florence, Happy Valley, The Fall, Bloodline, The Expanse
    3. 3 Trust Me: The Long Con On-Demand—From The Riches to Sneaky Pete, Patriot, The Americans and More
      1. The Masquerade: Sneaky Pete
      2. The Period Political Masquerade: The Americans
      3. Entrapment and Reversals: The Night Manager
      4. All Is Not What It Seems: The Good Place
      5. The Farce Thriller: Patriot
      6. Ozark: Who Can a Con Artist Trust?
      7. Bonus Content: The Path, Younger, Mr. Robot
    4. 4 Dystopias, Multiverses and Magic Realism
      1. The Constructive/Destructive Power of Ideas: The Handmaid’s Tale
      2. Our World with a Cautionary Twist
      3. Crafting the Supernatural/Dystopian Pilot
      4. Microcosmic Dystopias and the Monster Mash: American Gods
      5. Portals and Multiverses: Childlike Wonder in Stranger Things
      6. Surprise and Shifting POV: The OA
      7. Adjoining Realms in The Man in the High Castle
      8. Bonus Content: Atlanta, Man Seeking Woman, The Good Place, Game of Thrones, The Young Pope, plus “The Neurotic Superhero”
    5. 5 Story Tentacles: Making Surprising Choices That Yield More Story
      1. Inevitable Yet Unpredictable
      2. Keep Your Frenemies Close: Orange Is the New Black
      3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want … Mozart in the Jungle
      4. A Window Onto a New World: Switched at Birth
      5. Taboo Relationships in Comedies
      6. Points of View: The Affair
      7. Ensembles and Backstories
      8. When a Flaw Becomes an Asset: Girls
      9. The Macro/Micro Approach: The Young Pope
      10. Game of Thrones: The Ultimate Story Tentacle Show?
      11. The Unreliable Narrator
      12. Bonus Content: Breaking Bad, Scandal, Mad Men, Taxi, plus the Switched at Birth pilot teaser
    6. 6 Spotlight on a Rebel: Ryan Murphy Reinvents the Mini-Series by Embracing His Inner Outsider
      1. Why Can’t I Be Audrey Hepburn?
        1. Tone is everything in television
        2. Reinvigorating a Genre
        3. The More Specific You Make Something, The More Universal It Becomes
        4. “No” = A Rest Stop on the Road to “Yes”
        5. Limitation as an Opportunity and Differentiator
      2. The Pop Culture Junkie
      3. The Limited Anthology Series
      4. Impossible = Possible
      5. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia
  8. Part II Developing Iconic Characters: Relatability and Authenticity
    1. 7 Character Empathy vs. Sympathy: How and Why We Align With Characters’ Wants and Needs
      1. Touching the Void
      2. Nobody’s Perfect
      3. The Dance
      4. Reverting to Type
      5. Judgment, Morality and Perception
      6. The Insatiable Appetite of the Ego
      7. Insecure: Authentic as F**k
      8. Big Little Lies, Guilt and Shame
      9. Sympathy for the Robot: Westworld
      10. Hannah, Clay and the Razor’s Edge: 13 Reasons Why
      11. Alignment and Allegiance
      12. Bonus Content: Mr. Robot, Getting On, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Young Pope, Better Things, Animal Kingdom, plus “Empathy and the Female Gaze”
    2. 8 Choosing Between Two Wrongs: Characters Trapped by Limitation
      1. Creating the Dilemma
      2. Homeland: The Lasting Effects of Devastating Decisions
      3. A “What If?” Exercise
      4. Dilemma and Perspectives
      5. Politics, Power and Internal Logic: Legion, The Handmaid’s Tale
      6. Jessica Jones: How Late is Too Late?
      7. Guilt, Maturity and Aspirations: This Is Us
      8. The Cleanse and Crossing the Line
      9. Bonus Content: Bates Motel, Breaking Bad, Queen Sugar, Orange Is the New Black
    3. 9 The Wild Card Character: Power Dynamics and Motivations
      1. The Wild Card With a Twist: Mr. Robot
      2. The Wild Card’s Wild Card: Mozart in the Jungle
      3. The Roommate Soulmate: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
      4. The Pushy Roommate/Friend/Business Partner/Mentor: Silicon Valley
      5. Disrupting an Institution: The Young Pope
      6. The Role of Destabilizing Characters: Better Call Saul, The Crown and Goliath
      7. Bonus Content: Luther, Big Little Lies, Stranger Things, Bloodline, plus script excerpts from Mr. Robot, The Crown, Goliath
    4. 10 Writing Smart Dialogue in the Digital Era
      1. The Oblique
      2. Bonus Content: The Profound Power of Silence plus Better Call Saul excerpt
      3. Idiosyncratic Voices: Empire, Silicon Valley
      4. Get in Late, Get Out Early
      5. Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
      6. Point of View and Subtext: The Last Man on Earth, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
      7. Shop Talk: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
      8. Naturalistic Dialogue: Profanity in The Wire
      9. Backstory: What They Don’t Say
      10. Actions—And Triangulation
      11. Overlapping Dialogue: Stranger Things
      12. Economy With Words
      13. E-Communication
      14. Listening to Our Characters
      15. Bonus Content: Bones, Orphan Black, The Americans, Scandal
  9. Part III Career Strategies in the Evolving TV Marketplace
    1. 11 To I.P. or Not to I.P.? That Is the Question: The Value of Intellectual Property in the Scripted TV Ecosystem
      1. Intellectual Property Glossary
      2. Breaking (Through the Noise) and Entering (the Zeitgeist)
      3. The Literary Approach
      4. Adapting Autobiographical Material
      5. Bonus Content: A deeper dive into putting a new spin on forms of I.P., from comics to musicals
    2. 12 The Show Bible as an Essential Sales Tool
      1. That Was Then. This Is Now.
      2. The Need for Reassurance: From Closed-Ended, Stand-Alone Procedurals to Open-Ended, Slower-Burn Serials
      3. If There’s a Central Mystery, There Needs to Be a Series Bible
      4. Networks That Circumvent the Pilot Process (Tend to) Commission Series Bibles
      5. The Following Networks Still Make Pilots, But Do They Require Series Bibles?
      6. Half-Hour Sitcoms Rarely, If Ever, Require a Series Bible …
      7. Drafting the Series Mini-Bible
      8. Bonus Content: Examples/templates of one-hour drama and half-hour dramedy series mini-bibles, plus how to create a story area document
    3. 13 Trips, Traps, Tropes: Avoiding Rookie Mistakes
      1. Become Experts in the Genre
        1. “Great Pilot, But What’s the Series?”
        2. “It’s Too Wrapped Up”
        3. “What’s the Franchise?”
        4. “Who Are We Rooting For?”
        5. “There’s No Sense of Place or Time”
        6. “It’s Confusing”
        7. “The Premise Is Weak”
        8. “It Doesn’t Feel Authentic”
        9. “The Dialogue/Style/Tone Are Uninspired”
        10. “It’s Too Long”
        11. “The Plotting is Tepid”
        12. “The Stakes Are Not High Enough”
        13. “It’s Just Talking Heads”
        14. “It’s Too Superficial”
        15. “There Are Too Many Characters”
        16. “The Good Stuff Appears Too Late”
      2. Know the Industry—Yet Be Innovative
      3. The Temptation to Rush
      4. Bonus Content: “The War Against the Kitchen Sink Pilot,” a/k/a “The Premise Pilot Blues”
    4. 14 The Creative Entrepreneur: From Kickstarting a Web Series to Hitting the Big Time
      1. “Call My Agent”
      2. Getting an Agent
      3. Agents vs. Managers
      4. Advice From the (Staff Writer) Trenches
      5. Bonus Content: List of the Top Contests and Fellowships
      6. More Opportunities Than Ever—Yet It’s Never Been More Competitive
      7. Show Them Your Proof of Concept
      8. Think Locally, Act Globally
      9. What I Really Want To Do Is Direct (a Web Series)
      10. Bonus Content: Advice from Kit Williamson
      11. Work Begets Work
  10. Acknowledgments
  11. About the Author
  12. About the Editors
  13. Index