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Working Backwards by Morva Shepley

Guest Blogger: Morva Shepley

Here are a couple of tips I thought I’d pass along to fellow writers. They’re from no less a person than Jane Espenson, who has written for such TV shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and the new version of Torchwood, Torchwood: The New World. She was in Australia during September to talk about writing genre TV.

When she spoke to The Age she passed along these two tips in an interview with Karl Quinn:

Don’t write for an audience. Write what you want to see.

By ‘audience’ here she means marketplace. Personally, I agree with that. There’s something satisfying about writing that comes from the heart, and something messy about second guessing the audience, about, for instance, putting in a cute dog for no reason, or bringing back characters who do nothing but it’s felt the fans will love to see them.

Her second bit of advice was:

Work backwards. If there’s a TV show you really like, watch your favourite episode and re-create the outline. Now you’ll know what a good outline looks like. That’s how I taught myself.

That sounds like an amazing piece of advice, especially as it’s something that anyone can do at home, for free, and even if you decide that TV writing is not for you, you’ve still learned a little bit more about the craft of writing.

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