Things I've Learned from Dead Pilots Society
I cannot get enough of the (new-to-me) podcast Dead Pilots Society. In each episode, "scripts that were developed by studios and networks but were never produced are given the table reads they deserve." Creators Andrew Reich and Ben Blacker co-host the podcast, which includes interviews with the writers and an insider's look at the process of writing and selling sitcoms.
I began listening because I thought the table reads would be fun - and they are - but the insights in the first few minutes of each podcast have been incredibly helpful to my own work. Whether you write for tv, film, advertising, books, traditional or digital media, the rules of strong writing apply:
"Pilots can die for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their quality": Same goes for books. Articles. Ads. Etc. Episode 1. Along with why Reno 911 almost never got made
Why you should read your work out loud, especially if it will be heard out loud (Picture book authors, webcast writers, listen up!): Episode 2 with John Hodgman (You may have seen him as PC in the Apple Mac/PC commercials.)
The two questions you have to ask so you don't get lost in your script/manuscript: This is so important I'm not even going to make you go listen. From Andrew Reich, 1) "What do the characters want?" and 2) "Are they being active in pursuing their drive?" Hear more about two and a half minutes in to Episode 17.
Edits, revisions and time travel: To get past the knee-jerk "f&*$ these people feeling" and be productive, check out the mental time travel suggestion in minute two of Episode 18. To hear about Jennifer Egan's approach to novel writing, stick around for minute three.
Shutting down cliches: Learn the comedy cliches for a funny tree, bodily organ, dog and cookie so you can avoid them in your own work. And if you've never used "clam" "familiar" "classic" "sitcommy" or the Friends' writers' fave "Shift F7" to shut down a cliche, you may want to listen to the first five minutes of Episode 20.