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Macro Storytelling: Writing Character and Story Arcs in TV (PT68)

Alex and Nick discuss macro storytelling in TV writing, from season-long narrative arcs to character development.

Why is it important to have character arcs across seasons? When should you write serialized narratives? How far in advance should you plot things out? Do you need to know everything before writing a pilot? What are unique TV examples of macro storytelling?

Plus, we talk about what “signing with an agent or manager” literally means.

The Paper Team sets things up…



Paper Scraps: Reviews and rep signing (00:53)
1 – Season and story arcs in TV (05:00)
2 – Story arcs in your writing: what to watch out for (16:16)
3 – Character arcs (24:59)
4 – Keeping the macro story relevant to the micro scale (36:32)
5 – Reinventing the show (40:08)
6 – Self-contained versus serialization (50:12)
Takeaways and Resources (54:34)


“Daredevil Showrunners on How Punisher and Elektra Shake Up Season 2” – Collider
“Why New TV Comedies Are Choosing Plot Over Jokes” – The New York Times
“Lay Down Your Burdens” (2×19/20 – Battlestar Galactica)
“Final Five” Cylons
“Nerve” (1×19 – Farscape)
“Chain of Command” (6×10/11 – Star Trek: The Next Generation)
“6 Screenwriting Lessons from Parks and Recreation” – TV Calling
“Hitting the Fan” (5×05 – The Good Wife)
“Dance Dance Resolution” (2×02 – The Good Place)
“One Last Ride” (7×12/13 – Parks and Recreation)
“Serialized Television Has Become a Disease” – io9


Michael Schur 2011 interview on The A.V. Club

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

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Paper Team
Paper Team
Alex Freedman & Nick Watson

Paper Team is a podcast about television writing and becoming a TV writer.

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