Crafty TV Writing Thinking Inside the Box

Alex Epstein

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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Everyone watches television, and everyone has an opinion on what makes good TV. But, as Alex Epstein shows in this guide, writing for television is a highly specific craft that requires knowledge, skill, and more than a few insider's tricks.

Epstein, a veteran TV writer and show creator himself, provides knowledge and insight about the entire process of television writing, both for beginners and for professionals who want to go to the next level. Crafty TV Writing explains how to decode the hidden structure of a TV series, describing the best ways to generate a hook, write an episode, create characters the audience will never tire of, construct entertaining dialogue, and use humor. It shows how to navigate the tough but rewarding television industry, from writing your first "spec" script, to getting hired to work on a show, to surviving—even thriving—if you get fired. And it illuminates how television writers think about the shows they are writing, whether they are working in comedy, drama, or "reality."


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Why You Want to Write TV
When I was first coming up in the biz, movie writers looked down at TV writers. "If this doesn't work out," they'd say, "there's always TV." TV writers had an inferiority complex: "I'd love to work in movies. But I can't afford it." (Even then, TV writers made more money.) A movie could be made for a niche audience, but not TV. The three networks only aired shows that the entire country could watch. It was the '80s, and Miami Vice was the most innovative thing on television.
Then cable blossomed. Now everyone from HBO to the
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  • Alex Epstein

  • Alex Epstein is the author of Crafty Screenwriting. He has worked as a development executive, television story editor, and television writer for more than a decade. He cocreated the comic drama series Naked Josh, and was head writer for the science fiction series Charlie Jade. A graduate of Yale University and the UCLA School of Film and Television, he writes the popular blog Complications Ensue,
  • Alex Epstein