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Tone in TV Writing (PT60)

NEW: Get the episode cheat sheet on our Patreon!

Alex and Nick discuss the importance of tone in TV shows and how to establish it in your own writing.

What is tone in television? Where do TV shows fit on the scale between farce and gritty realism? How can you establish tone through story, character, themes, and world? How do you keep a consistent tone in your TV script?

Plus, we announce brand new episode transcripts.

The Paper Team goes dark and gritty…



Paper Scraps: New Paper Team transcripts (00:23)
1 – Defining tone and its importance (01:56)
2 – How to set-up or establish tone: world, character, story, dialogue, themes, and marketing (08:12)
3 – Tonal dissonance and “tonal recall” (32:53)
Takeaways and Resources (38:35)


“TV World-Building 101” (PT44) – Transcript
“Joke-Writing, Stand-Up and Late-Night TV ft. Simon Taylor (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno)” (PT22) – Transcript
“Writing Adult Comedy Animation ft. Alison Tafel (BoJack Horseman)” (PT39) – Transcript
“Assisting TV Comedy Writers ft. Gary Sundt (Superstore/The Goldbergs)” (PT43)
“Breaking in & Writing From “Outside the System” ft. Hilliard Guess (The Screenwriter’s Rant Room)” (PT47) – Transcript
The Shield
The Mentalist
Burn Notice
Arrested Development
Jason Bateman
Coen Brothers
Burn After Reading
Desperate Housewives
Doctor Who
Christopher Eccleston
David Tennant
Matt Smith
Veronica Mars
“Fly” (3×10 – Breaking Bad)
Rian Johnson
“Wormhole X-Treme!” (5×12 – Stargate SG-1)
“200” (10×06 – Stargate SG-1)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Kingsman Church Scene (Video)
Star Trek: Discovery
The Orville
The Mummy (2017 Film)
The Mummy (1999 Film)
The Room
The Disaster Artist (Film)
“It insists upon itself” – Family Guy (Video)
Sweeney Todd (Film)
Cougar Town
The TV Set
The Practice
David E. Kelley
Boston Legal
Baywatch Nights


Tone Shift (TV Tropes)

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! :)

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If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

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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