Actor, Writer, Producer Zoe Lister-Jones Gives Advice On How To Become A Television Writer

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Answers by Zoe Lister-Jones, Actor, writer, producer. Current work: Life In Pieces; Consumed; Confirmation, on Quora.

A: I don't really have a method to the way in which I write, I tend to just write when I feel inspired. I think that's the best way to really connect to your material, and go on a journey with your characters. And unless I am writing for a studio, I prefer to not outline explicitly. There's something about entering the unknown in writing that is an important part of the creative process for me. Once I feel satisfied with a script, I will send it to a small circle of trusted friends to give me notes. I think the notes process is incredibly important, but it's equally important to trust your gut in the notes you choose to take and the ones you may choose to ignore.


A: There are certainly pro's and con's to both. When working independently, you have a lot more creative control, but far fewer resources. I would say that's the biggest trade off. When working with a studio, you have access to a larger pool of actors, more esteemed crew, and the infrastructure to take a lot of the exhausting producerial elements off your hands, so that you can focus as an artist.

On the other hand, there are many more cooks in the kitchen when working with a studio. So, as an artist, you have to negotiate a lot more, and may have to make creative compromises. I think the pressure to appeal to a larger audience has much higher stakes when working on a studio film, so a lot of the compromises are rooted in that responsibility.


A: I think really dissecting the TV shows and films that you admire, and noting their structural distinctions, the way they use dialogue, the way they flesh out characters, can be very useful. Reading scripts is also a helpful tool for the same reasons.

Once you start writing, and feel you have something you're proud of, I would find a group of friends you can trust, and let them read your work. It's easy to lose perspective, so creating a community in which people can give you objective feedback is key.

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