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Alex and Nick break down six iconic TV pilots to look at what makes them great TV scripts (Alias, Community, Homicide, The O.C., Scrubs and 3rd Rock from the Sun).

What makes a memorable TV pilot work? How do they introduce characters in unique ways? How do they set up the world and engine of the show? What rules do they bend or follow, and why? What TV writing lessons can you learn from them?

Plus, we discuss how seriously you should take glowing feedback from screenwriting competitions.

The Paper Team starts things off…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Paper Scraps: Glowing feedback from competitions (00:00:50)
1 – Introduction to the six TV pilots (00:05:49)
2 – Why we selected these TV pilots (00:10:43)
3 – Teasers and openers (00:19:55)
4 – Character introductions, ensemble dynamics and dialogue (00:26:37)
4 – World and exposition (00:42:00)
5 – Pilot structure vs. series representation (00:47:35)
Next Week On (01:02:53)

Links

BlueCat Screenplay Competition
“Feedback and Notes: Building Your Reading Onion” (PT08)
“Brains and Eggs” (1×01 – 3rd Rock from the Sun)
“Truth Be Told” (1×01 – Alias)
“Pilot” (1×01 – Community)
“Gone for Goode” (1×01 – Homicide: Life on the Street)
“Premiere” (1×01 – The O.C.)
“My First Day” (1×01 – Scrubs)
Josh Schwartz
David Simon
Dan Harmon
in medias res
“Morning Routine” – American Psycho (Video)
Paul Attanasio
“TV Characters 101” (PT46)
Tom Fontana
Diner (Movie)

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick discuss the importance of weaving A, B and C stories in TV writing, and interesting ways of doing it in TV scripts.

Why is it important to cut between storylines in TV? When should you start and end each storyline? Which storylines should you spend more time on in your TV script? When should you only do a single A story? What are some noteworthy and unique formats for A/B/C plotlines?

Plus, we talk about where to read TV scripts.

The Paper Team become master-weavers…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Paper Scraps (FKA Odds-and-ends): Finding TV scripts (00:55)
1 – Why does TV have A/B/C stories? (03:51)
2 – Nuts and bolts of using A/B/C stories (10:27)
3 – Interesting and non-traditional uses of weaving A/B/C stories in TV (18:22)
Takeaways and Resources (32:22)

Links

Writers Guild Foundation Library
TV Calling Script Library
Zen134237
Lee Thomson Script Library
Simply Scripts
Daily Script
IMSDb
“What are A, B, and C stories in screenwriting?” – TV Calling
Team America Montage (Video)
“Marge vs. the Monorail” (4×12 – The Simpsons)
“Ozymandias” (5×14 – Breaking Bad)
“That’s My Dog” (4×05 – Six Feet Under)
“Eleven Angry Men and One Dick” (3×07 – 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Boomtown
Graham Yost
24 (TV Series)
“Kim vs. the Cougar: The Oral History of 24’s Most Infamous Scene” – Vulture
“My Bad” (1×06 – Scrubs)
Awake (TV Series)
Kyle Killen
“How Lost revolutionized storytelling” – TV Calling
“Walkabout” (1×04 – Lost)
“The Constant” (4×05 – Lost)
Watchmen
Slaughterhouse-Five
This Is Us
Oz (TV Series)
Carnivàle
“Bowling” (2×20 – Malcom in the Middle)
Sliding Doors
“Remedial Chaos Theory” (3×04 – Community)
“Split” (3×01 – Coupling)
“A Rickle in Time” (2×01 – Rick & Morty)

Resources

“Elephant Bucks” – Sheldon Bull
“Cracking the Sitcom Code” – The Atlantic
“Television Writing from the Inside Out” – Larry Brody
Plot Threads (TV Tropes)
Plot Parallel (TV Tropes)
Two Lines, No Waiting (TV Tropes)
Four Lines, All Waiting (TV Tropes)

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick look at the importance of dialogue in TV writing, and give an overview of what makes it stand out.

What can you use dialogue for? What makes good or bad dialogue? How do you introduce character quirks in the dialogue? What are some common pitfalls in dialogue writing? How do you fix bad dialogue?

Plus, we respond to a review and talk over-used pitches.

The Paper Team trades words…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Odds-and-ends: Review & Pitches (00:48)
1 – Purpose of dialogue (09:06)
2 – Specificities of dialogue: style and character (13:08)
3 – Finding your dialogue (16:38)
4 – What makes bad dialogue and how to fix it (22:41)
Takeaways and Resources (34:42)

Links

Mumblecore
Mark Duplass
Big Brother Live Feeds
The Newsroom
Littlefinger’s “Chaos is a Ladder” speech from Game of Thrones (Video)
“Oh, hi Mark” scene from The Room (Video)
Code-switching
Draft Zero Podcast

Resources

“Dialogue Secrets” – William C. Martell

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

Special thanks to Evan Schmitt for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick celebrate the fiftieth episode of Paper Team with a special look back at the first year of the podcast, including updates on past episodes, guests, and other news.

What are some of our own favorite moments and episodes? What are the most popular Paper Team episodes? What new lessons have we learned since recording them?

From assistants and coordinators, to writers and producers, we also catch up with several of our amazing guests: Tennessee Martin, Steven Darancette, Sam Miller, Chris Corbett, Maggie Herman, Jimmy Nguyen and Gary Sundt.

The Paper Team pops the champagne…

SHOWNOTES

Content

1 – Follow-ups to Paper Team episodes and some of our favorites (00:01:21)
2 – Follow-ups from our guests, ft. Tennessee Martin, Steven Darancette, Sam Miller, Chris Corbett, Maggie Herman, Jimmy Nguyen and Gary Sundt (00:15:01)
3 – One year of Paper Team (00:54:21)
Special Thanks, Outro and Next Week On (01:13:14)

Links

“How to Follow Up (Without Seeming Desperate)” (PT07)
“Getting Your TV Script Read” (PT29)
“TV Writer Representation 101” (PT31)
“Australian TV ft. Chris Corbett” (PT18)
Australian Survivor
“Managing Finances as an Assistant & Staff Writer ft. Kiyong Kim” (PT16)
“Web Series and TV Writing ft. Sam Miller (Single by 30/Mom)” (PT27)
SeeSo
Over-the-top content (OTT)
“Diversity in TV and the Writers’ Room ft. Francesca Butler & Kelly Lynne D’Angelo” (PT14)
“Assisting TV Comedy Writers ft. Gary Sundt (Superstore/The Goldbergs)” (PT43)
“Breaking in & Writing From “Outside the System” ft. Hilliard Guess” (PT47)
“Writing Adult Comedy Animation ft. Alison Tafel (BoJack Horseman)” (PT39)
“Act Breaks” (PT15)
“TV Viewing Habits: Writing for the Binge” (PT42)
“Bringing the TV Writers’ Room Process Home” (PT06)
“Writing Themes and Values in TV” (PT36)
“TV Writer vs. Fandom: Writers’ Rooms and Fan Interaction – Paper Team at WonderCon 2017” (PT38)
Tennessee Martin on Twitter
Lucifer
The Lady Parts Collective
The Lady Parts Collective on Facebook
Joe Henderson
Ildy Modrovich
Jennifer Graham Imada
Dawn Wells
“Writing Children’s Animation ft. Steven Darancette (Lalaloopsy/Tumble Leaf)” (PT41)
Steven Darancette on Twitter
Sam Miller on Twitter
American Airness (Video)
Vaudeville
Chris Corbett on IMDb
“TV Budgeting and Line Producing ft. Maggie Herman (Bosch) – On the Road at SDCC 2016” (PT10)
Maggie Herman on Twitter
People of Earth
Wrecked
Search Party
The Detour
The Last O.G.
Miracle Workers
Simon Rich
Man Seeking Woman
The Cops
Michael Showalter
“Independent Producing ft. Jimmy Nguyen (Showrunners)” (PT32)
Jimmy Nguyen on Twitter
Gary Sundt on Twitter
Death Note (2017 Movie)
Adam Wingard
Gary Sundt’s Kong tattoo
Will/Sean Podcast – Episode 255 “Retcon the Episode” with Alex Freedman & Nick Watson
“The 2016 Paper Team Holiday Special” (PT25)
“Joke-Writing, Stand-Up and Late-Night TV ft. Simon Taylor (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno)” (PT22)
“TV Pitching 101: Who, What, and Why” (PT13)
“Spec v. Pilot: What You Should Be Writing Next” (PT04)
“TV Writing Competitions” (PT33)
“TV Spec Script 101” (PT34)
“Supplemental Income for Writers” (PT35)
“Moving to Los Angeles (and Things We Wish We Knew)” (PT01)
“TV Pilot 101” (PT30)
Pocket Casts
“Goal-Setting as a TV Writer” (PT26)
Francesca Butler on Twitter
Jason J. Cohn on Twitter
Alex Switzky on Twitter
Evan Schmitt on Instagram
Elena Rodriguez Miranda on Dropr

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode and Joseph Yuan for the music.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.


I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

695 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.


Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.


I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.


Write on.


P.S.: New around? You should start here.

What’s Alex Watching?

The Good FightThe LeftoversThe Chris Gethard ShowMaster of NoneLegion
TV Calling

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