September 3, 2010

Sequence in everything: T.V. plot and joke telling edition

I stumbled onto an interesting blog today from a T.V. writer Jane Espenson (hat tip Ransom Riggs). Here's what she says here blog is about:

I'm a former writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have written episodes for shows including: Angel, Firefly, Gilmore Girls, Ellen, The O.C., Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dinosaurs, Andy Barker PI, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Caprica and others. My blog is intended to help new writers tackle the job of writing those all-important spec scripts. I can't read your work, get you an agent, or get you hired. But I can give you solid, time-tested script-writing advice!
I've been thinking a lot about how service design and experience design is a lot like story telling and even more like T.V. writing since we hope that the customers will continue to come back for more and more.  A good writer develops episodes that make the viewer want to come back next week to see whats next.

My favorite topic of sequence (see here and here for a review of why it is my favorite topic, maybe here too if you up to reading an academic article) is found dispersed in here blog and seems to be a pretty important topic to writing a good script.  Here are two posts I found interesting:

Sometimes the funniest part of a joke should not be put at the end: Not Lovin' It
I realize now... not to put the funniest word at the end of the line, but to make sure the line continued past it. This seemed to me to go against one of the basic principals of joke writing, but now I see the value in it. He wanted casual, easy, "thrown away" funny, not needy rim-shot comedy, begging for laughs by hitting every comedy-made-easy rule.
The pilot (first) show should be revealing: Hot Cold Openings
Yes. This is huge -- a lot of people never read past the opening, so making it as perfect as possible is crucial. Jeff says: I am a big believer that the opening line of a pilot (or the opening image, or the teaser) should be the series in microcosm.


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