Series = Ensemble

Series = Ensemble

When coming up with an idea for a television series, and writing a pilot script, writers often make the mistake of approaching it like a feature. Meaning, they focus on a single main character, with a single problem and goal. That’s not how television works. I can...
Web of Conflict

Web of Conflict

What’s the key thing to focus on when developing a TV series idea? The answer is simple: the characters. Specifically, a web of entertaining-to-watch characters who have conflicted relationships with each other. Ideally, you would also have a big, intriguing,...
Unmet Needs

Unmet Needs

I think the best television characters want something they can never have — and spend every episode pursuing it.  What makes them compelling is that they are under siege, in some way, by the world around them, and unable to secure that version of their life that they...
Serialized Storytelling

Serialized Storytelling

Over the holidays, I finally checked out HBO’s THE WIRE, a decade after its five-year run began.  I found myself binge-watching through the first three seasons.  This show was never a clear hit with audiences, and didn’t win many major awards.  But WGA screenwriters...
People We Care About

People We Care About

This Sunday Downton Abbey goes up against Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men and House of Cards to try to win its first Emmy as Outstanding Drama Series.  It’s probably not going to happen, I’m guessing – thought it is now the most-nominated non-U.S....
All-time best written series

All-time best written series

I couldn’t resist creating a chart that breaks down the recent WGA member-voted “Best written series of all time” by decade and type of show. What conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this? (If you have trouble viewing the document below, you might...