This excellent book on Writing for TV  by Yvonne Grace has already taken up a permanent place on my bookshelf. Let me declare first that I’ve met Yvonne twice in the real world, and many times on-line – and we’ve guest-blogged for each other. But I don’t give five stars easily. Writing for TV, series serials and soaps - cover

Most books on screenwriting are predictable and prescriptive. This book is neither. It is both very practical and a good page-turner, plunging you from the first into the heady atmosphere of the TV writers’ room. Yvonne is a highly experienced writer and producer for some of the biggest shows in TV drama in the UK. She has worked with many of the best names in the business and won awards for her work. 

Writing for TV – clear principles and pungent stories

Her experience is conveyed both through clearly stated principles and pungent stories. We see her facing down an angry star actress, hear of writers who made themselves unemployable through ignoring the basics of TV politics, and follow the details of how a TV show is created and sustained.

Along the way, the reader gains important knowledge of the process, and craft, of working as a professional for TV. There are sections (such as “Mistakes TV Writers Make”) which I wish I’d read when I started – they would have saved me much pain. 

The first Last Tango

She also includes thoughtful interviews with current writers, and the intriguing opening of Sally Wainwright’s first draft for what became Last Tango in Halifax, in full script format.

Writing for TV - Last Tango in Halifax

Last Tango in Halifax

My one (very small) quibble is that the book’s editor should have corrected Wainwright’s title page, which appears as the default “Name of First Writer” page that Final Draft gives you if you don’t correct it.

Given that I’ve now read Yvonne’s book twice, it’s a sign of its strength that this is the only nit-pick I could find. Highly recommended.

Writing for Television

 

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