Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why TV?

BooM over at Wannabetvwriter is asking the telescribosphere why they write for TV. A worthy question!

I came to TV writing with a background in playwriting and designing videogames. I'm currently working on a comic book and a feature. Creating fictional worlds is what drives me, and happily, bizarrely, is something people have paid me to do (sometimes), when I would readily pay them to do it if I had the dosh.

A quick digression from the Why to When. One of the games I worked on, MAJESTIC for Electronic Arts, was episodic. We had a writers room, just like a TV show. We even got canceled after 4 episodes, just like a TV show.

One of the game writers was a talented woman who had worked on BEVERLY HILLS 90210 and MELROSE PLACE as well as movies and numerous interactive projects before and since. She became a mentor and a good friend, and encouraged me to think about TV writing should I ever find myself in LA.

As it happens, a later game job brought me to LA. I started writing TV scripts, sent one to the Warner Bros. TV Drama Writers Workshop, got in, and got staffed. I'm so grateful to the people who took a chance on me. It still feels unreal.

Back to the Why.

Stories come in all shapes and sizes, and it so happens that a lot of the richest storytelling can happen in TV, when you live with characters week after week and experience how they evolve and surprise over time.

There's something very intimate and compelling about how these stories unfold in your home. I was in tears during the season 1 finale of MAD MEN. Is it any wonder that fandom emerges around TV shows the way it rarely does for movies?

A key element to TV writing is its collaborative nature, unlike writing a novel or poetry. I love the mix of cooperative and individual creation that takes place on a TV staff, everyone working through ideas to craft the best story possible, then the writer going off and writing the script.

And, it's a shitload of hard, mentally exhausting work, but really really really fun.

The below can consider themselves tagged, although I doubt more than a couple even read my blog:

Alex Epstein

Shawna Benson
Ken Levine
Jane Espenson
And... BooM! What? She didn't say no tagbacks.


writerscabal said...

Do you still have time to write for games?

Kira said...

When I can, Writerscabal, yes, both writing and designing. A "Why Games?" post is in order, I think.

And Sande/Anne, I feel like I must've met one or both of you at GDC or AGC at one time or another. I definitely know you by name and reputation -- thanks for dropping by. I'm excited to check out your blog and site!

Shawna said...

Okay, I responded. I'm waiting to tag someone until I see if any of the others already tagged cough up their stories.