Thursday, December 04, 2008

Great book for television writers

Okay, I'm no one to talk, given that I haven't had a television since 1988. Whole programs have come and gone, such as The West Wing or the various CSI shows, of which I never even saw one episode. So why am I blogging about a TV writing book? First because many of the authors who come to see me think that they might be good at writing for television or film, and many are probably correct. Second because I always want to applaud a how-to book that is actually well-written and the author of which is a genuine and successful practitioner, rather than someone who washed out in the field and now purports to teach it.

The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts is written by Ellen Sandler, who worked for a long time on Everybody Loves Raymond as a writer and producer (she was nominated for an Emmy), and who has other programs to her credit. Her IMDB bio is here. She now teaches, which I roughly interpret as "rakes in fat consulting fees," which makes sense. Her book is warm and funny, but it gets down to business quickly, and by page 50 or so you really know what you're doing.

I read whatever how-to-write or how-to-publish books I can find, and 90% of them are unnecessary. The remaining 10% are quite good, and there is a top 1-2% that I consider essential. This appears to be one of those books (I welcome comment from people who actually work in television to tell me if this is accurate).

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