"How a TV Show Episode Gets Written" - A PSA

Hey everyone - So if you’re following me, you know that I’m not really a ‘fandom’ guy; more of a ‘casual viewer’, hence why I don’t post fandom-related things very often.

However! I was having a conversation with Octoswan yesterday, who is an active member of the Tumblr-SPN community, about a lot of the drama going on with y’all lately and I checked out some of the posts related to said drama. I noticed that, in many cases, there were a lot of accusations and questions being thrown around about “the writers.”

“Do the writers just not know how to write women??”

“Why do the writers think that there always needs to be a romance??”

“Why do the writers…?”

And so on. What I started to notice was that there was a trend of blaming the writers for the problems that fans are having with the show or the direction it’s going, or for ‘baiting’ the fans in various ways, so as a screenwriter working in the industry (if not on SPN) I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions and notions about how a TV show episode gets written.

(Disclaimer: Please note that this is based on how an hour-long drama is usually made and can vary from show to show)

  1. The showrunner(s) plot out the arc of the season; they look at where the characters are at the beginning, figure out where they want them by the end. Then they figure out a nice way of getting from point a to point b, trying to figure out what the core developments of each episode are going to be. Some of these could be incredibly specific (“Character A’s motivations change when he finds out ____ about Character B”) or very vague (“Character A begins to lose faith in his mission”).
  2. When it comes time for an episode to be written, the writers take whatever input they’re getting for that episode and begin the process of outlining the episode. What they’re given can vary wildly - Sometimes it’s vague or specific (see above) OR it might even be based on what guest star they’ve managed to get for that episode (‘We’ve gotten Big Star for an episode; write an episode for them”) In a lot of cases, a big guest star episode will usually not be an integral part of the plot of the rest of the season (aka “A Filler Episode”) because big name stars’ schedules are incredibly difficult to coordinate and thus their episodes needs to be able to “float” (ie. Be able to air at any point in the season without breaking the story)
  3. The writers all begin outlining together, looking at whatever input they’ve gotten and set about plotting out the episode. They start by breaking the story into acts (5-6 for the average hour-long drama), and then figuring out how to get the characters from point a to point b in the funniest/most exciting/scariest way possible while still trying to keep the bigger developments of the season in mind too.
  4. Once the outline has been nailed down, it begins getting sent around the ‘above-the-line’ people; producers, executives, etc. These people all give their notes, comments, and ideas. Spoiler alert: These ideas are not always good. Especially once you reach the executive level of a studio, many of these people view the success or failure of a show based purely on the numbers of people watching. If Show A is not getting the numbers that Show B is getting, then they give notes and advice on how to make Show A more like Show B, in hopes of getting those numbers up, even if it might not match exactly what Show A is ‘all about.’ These executives aren’t usually writers but they’ve been around them long enough to know terms like “B-plot” or “Raising the stakes” and so their notes might be things like “Make this episode sexier by sticking a love story B-plot in there!”, “We should kill off a character to raise the stakes”, “I know [Actor]’s agent. We should write them a character in this episode.”, etc. etc.
  5. After everyone’s given their notes, it all comes back to the writers again for a round of revisions. Now they’ve got to tweak and change their outline to match the stack of (sometimes contradictory) notes that they’ve gotten from all their bosses. They’ll work on it, tweak it, try to stick to their guns on some things, but sometimes compromises might have to be made. If there’s something big that the writers really want to make work, like an idea for the ending of a season or getting a certain guest star in a later episode, they need to keep their execs and producers happy and sometimes the easiest way to do that is a little compromise. (Example: If Mr. Executiveson said “You guys should really kill a character to raise the stakes” and the writers thendo it, Mr. Executiveson can tell everyone “That was my idea” and it’ll make him happy and thus more likely to give in to the writers on an issue later.)
  6. The revised outline will go back out again, get more notes, some people will be happy, some people will be pissed, and a second round of notes will be delivered. This continues over and over again as the deadline for actually writing the episode gets closer and closer until everyone is at least satisfied with where the episode stands.
  7. It’s important to note here that this is happening for multiple episodes at the same time. So when a big change happens in one episode it needs to be changed in all corresponding episodes - with all the notes and changes swirling around it can be harder than you think. 
  8. FINALLY after an outline has been approved it gets handed over to the writer(s) who are actually writing the episode. This might be one of the writers who has been in the writer’s room this whole time OR it might be a guest writer just arriving on the scene. They sit down to actually write it, writing the actual dialogue, scenes, jokes etc. but almost all the plot decisions have already been made for them ahead of time in the aforementioned outlining process. That being said, if there’s something in the outline that this particular writer doesn’t like (eg. something that (s)he really fought against in the writer’s room) then (s)he might not give it as much work as it might need, or if there was something they really wanted in there (but got cut) they might try to subtly (or not-so-subtly) shoehorn it in anyway. That depends a lot on the ego of the writer, the politics of the writer’s room… in an ideal world it wouldn’t happen, but it totally does.
  9. After the episode gets written, there’s usually a round of revisions, the showrunners taking a look at it, the execs and producers given more notes before finally FINALLY it can be pronounced done and ready to shoot.

Epilogue: The director then shoots the episode and may end up ignoring stuff or adding his own stuff in anyways. The writers are sometimes on set to defend things but not always.

Another note: You’d think that if a show were successful or one of the biggest shows on the network then the execs would give them a little more breathing room right? Haha, nope. It’s usually exactly the opposite: The more successful a show is the more that everyone wants to be involved.

So! That’s a little background info on the process of TV writing - It’s a lot of politics, a lot of compromises to keep important people happy, and it’s why sometimes things can seem inconsistent or certain things can fall through the cracks.

What I’m trying to say with all this is that the problems you may be having with a show aren’t always the writers’ fault - They’re not out to upset fans or specifically trying to undo or invalidate your perceptions or “head canon”… They’re just trying to write a good show and navigate the crazy minefield that is TV show production.

I hope this helps and that you learned something. If you liked it, “Reblog” it or do whatever it is you crazy Tumblrites do. :P


-Eric (@stirpicus on Twitter)

"1. Ignore deadlines. 

2. Take criticism badly. 

3. Burn bridges. 

4. Hate yourself. 

5. Trust no one (especially not yourself). 

6. Sabotage all of your personal relationships. 

7. Drink heavily. 

You might not get a lot of respect as a writer, but the crippling self-doubt and soul-crushing poverty make it all worth it. “

Quick PSA: Just because a word is a synonym to another word. doesn’t mean that it means the same thing. Words are not always interchangeable, and when using a thesaurus you should also always, always have a dictionary on hand. Families of words are not the same word. Just think of it this way: an orange, a grapefruit, and a lemon are all citrus fruits, but they are most definitely not the same thing. 

Words are awesome because there is one for everything. There is such a large diversity of words and they all have different flavours and connotations and shades of meaning, and for your story, for your paragraph, even for your damn sentence, don’t you want to have that perfect shade of meaning? The word that fits properly and means exactly what you want it to mean in the context of that sentence? Always, always, always look up your synonyms in the dictionary so it’s absolutely perfect. Word choice is important, so don’t half-ass it. Get across exactly what you want to say by carefully choosing your words. I promise you you (and your readers) won’t regret it.

To the entire Legend of Korra fandom, and everyone, really:

In light of recent events (suicide cw), I just want to take this opportunity to say this: please, no matter who you are or what you ship, help remind everyone that this fandom, all fandom, NEEDS to be a safe space. Remind people that those of us here will not tolerate homophobia, nor any kind of hate or bigotry.

I want anons and anyone else who dares send hate to have this fact seared into their minds. I want them to know that EVERYONE in this fandom, not to mention the cast and crew of the show itself, judges them when they do this.

Please stand with me in passing this message around the fandom. That someone was driven to hurt themselves is unacceptable. I need everyone to know that this stuff is happening in our fandom and it’s not okay. We need to drive the people who send or perpetuate this type of hate out of our community. We need to create an environment in which they know they’re not welcome.


Kurt Hummel Alphabet

y - your fave will never

Listen to This: Breaking Down the Deaf Trope

HELLO ASPIRING WRITER!  So I heard that you want to write about a Deaf character, or include one in your story.

That’s awesome!

But here is a list of things that you probably shouldn’t do, either because it’ll make you an asshole or because it’s REALLY OVER-FUCKING-DONE AND NEEDS TO STOP.

Keep reading

— Your muse may be homophobic. 
— Your muse may be racist 
— Your muse may be misogynist 
— Your muse may be a misanthrope.
— Your muse may be mean
— Your muse may be the exact opposite of all mentioned 
— You are not your muse.
It seems all muses are so kind and 
                          forgiving about everything, they don’t
                          care about gender or race or sexual 
                          orientation. It is okay to play a muse
                          that has problems with all of that, it
                          doesn’t mean you feel that way, too.

guys im not kidding some retail workers (like myself) are being told that they could be fired if they dont meet sales and credit goals this thanksgiving/black friday

i understand that you mean well, but the deed is already done and all you will be doing is making a bad situation even worse

please please please do not boycott thanksgiving shopping/black friday

about memes!

mutuals & non mutuals are free to send in memes as it’s always a quick & easy way to see how two characters will interact & possibly interact in the foreseeable future. but also! please feel free to check my meme tag & no matter how long ago it was reblogged, i will still happily write it up!

Don’t tell yourself that the handwritten black and white
picture that says
‘If you drink enough vodka it tastes like love’
is correct.
You know better.
You that know if you drink enough
vodka it’ll still taste like vodka
and you’ll still wince as it goes down.
If you drink enough vodka you’ll
wake up with a dry mouth and a pounding
Maybe, if you drink enough vodka with
a stranger,
their breath on your neck will feel
like love.
Maybe, if you drink enough vodka,
your laughter with friends
and your collapse of uncontrollable giggles
will feel like love.
Maybe, if you drink enough vodka,
the quiet moment before you descend
into sleep will feel like contentment,
Or maybe it will feel so very lonely.
If you drink enough vodka
it tastes like bathroom tiles
and bile rising in throats.
If you drink enough vodka it
tastes like irrational, salty tears.
Vodka doesn’t taste like emotions,
and if it did,
do you really think that emotion would
be love?
—  "If You Drink Enough Vodka It Tastes Like Alcohol Poisoning" by Claire Luisa
I just want you all to know

The first few months of the year are the hardest.
Last year, we concluded with the thought, “This year I’m really gonna do this!” So many resolutions hit the dirt by the end of January and turn into weights that we drag along behind us until we get exhausted and find it difficult to carry on. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to take a smaller piece of your resolution, a more reasonable weight to carry, and continue on when you’re ready.

If you’ve had trouble writing recently, it’s okay.
Maybe you’re overwhelmed, overworked, have family issues or personal issues, maybe you’re too hard on yourself or you’re in a taxing life situation. If we’re in places that force us to cope with being in these bad places, it’s hard to open ourselves up and be vulnerable when we write.

If trying to get yourself to write is only stressing you out more, take a break.
You might have other things in your life that are causing this stress in the first place, and feeling guilty about not writing probably isn’t helping. But it’s okay to have this trouble, and it’s okay to take a break from writing to deal with issues in your life, and it’s okay to come back to writing when you’re ready.

If all your writerly friends are writing and you can’t keep up, that’s okay.
Don’t compare yourself to others. You’re not them and they’re not you. Your situations are different, and you may be in vastly different places in your lives. It doesn’t make them better or you lesser. It’s better to go at the pace that you need to go at, no faster. You’ll be happier with your output then.

Family and friends might not get it.
Sometimes we need validation from our loved ones, but for whatever reason, they can’t give it to us. They might not understand why writers need to write and they might not support it, and they might say it’s a waste of time or other hurtful things. This is why it’s so important to find a community of writers that understand what you’re going through and can share in your woes.

You’re not as bad as you think you are.
We’re our own worst critics. We get so used to our own abilities that we don’t see what we’re capable of and we don’t see the potential in what we produce. It’s okay to seek out positive reinforcement, to ask people to read and tell you what they liked, and it’s okay to read really poorly-written stuff to boost our own egos. Sometimes we just need it.

If you write, you’re a writer.
It’s not up to anyone else to decide except you.

I’ve noticed an influx of writers around tumblr needing motivation or feeling stressed or questioning themselves. It’s important to take care of yourself first and put everything else second, and it’s important to know that you can do this. Don’t convince yourself otherwise.

                                    Friendly      PSA

     That if a thread ever becomes stressful or no fun for you to just let me know! I am more than fine with dropping a thread, and same goes for writing in general. If you lose interest in my muse or don’t feel comfortable writing with me it’s no big deal! I’d rather someone be happy and threading with other people who they have fun with than being upset or stressed by interacting with me or a particular thread.

     It’s no hard feelings. Role-playing is for fun and I don’t want to be the cause of someone’s anxiety on here, so you do what you gotta do. I’ll always be more than happy to pick something up should you ever change your mind.

Luke Imagine: Walking Out in an Argument

Author: Rhine


His eyes were hard and steely; a dark metallic blue instead of their usual piercing aquas.

They were narrowed and seething, full of fury and untamed rage that you never thought you would see.

And they were looking straight at you.

But it didn’t phase you because you were looking at him with the same expression twisted on your own features.

You could feel the anger bubbling, boiling inside of you; acid curling your stomach and steam coming out of your nose, poison in every word you spit out. There wasn’t a word to describe the intensity of anger you were feeling inside of you - all you knew was that it shook your bones and placed prickling blades on your skin; that it was directed to none other than Luke in front of you.

The one person that you loved the most. The one person who loved you the most.

But you weren’t thinking of love at the moment - the person in front of you was a stranger. A stranger who wore your boyfriend’s face, but not quite right - the boy you loved didn’t have that glare on his beautiful features, nor would there be shadows painted in the slopes and crevices of his face where a bright smile should be. 

It was an intruder in this boy; someone else taking over him. This wasn’t the Luke you loved. This wasn’t the Luke who wrapped you up in his sweaters in the winter, the boy who let you walk on benches and ledges and placed soft kisses on your head and looked at you like you were the universe. His universe.

If that was the case, then there was an intruder in your body as well.

Anger was your intruder; swimming in your veins and radiating from your every pore. It infiltrated you and left you seething, leaving a trail of dark thoughts and sharp insults in its wake.

It was stupid, really. 

You never talk to me anymore, Luke.

You were lonely and so sick of the silence that overcame the two of you whenever you happened to be lucky enough to be in the same room for more than a minute. He was always coming and going like the wind, never staying long enough for you to say anything more than a hello before he was gone again, taking your words and your heart with him.

I’m tired. Leave me alone.

And he was tired, you understood. Tired of working and practicing and tired of trying to live up to everyone’s expectations of him, of his definite greatness even though he tiptoed on a tightrope and knew that failure was just below him. He was tired of having to be in the spotlight and there was only so much an eighteen-year-old could give until there was nothing left. 

I’m tired too, Luke! I’ve been alone for so long.. can’t you see all this space between us?

But you were tired, too. Tired of working hard in this thing you called a relationship, tired of having to call him in the early hours to check if he was okay only to get a half mumbled reply. Tired of having to juggle your own personal problems without him to tell you everything was okay, tired of having to add him to your list of everything that was going wrong in your life. Tired of trying to hard and giving in smiles that sucked out everything you had left in this hollow body of yours to him only to have it all go unnoticed.

I only see another nagging, demanding person who wants something from me. Well, I’m tired of it all. I’m so tired of this.

He didn’t have to say it, but you both knew what he meant to include.

I’m so tired of you.

And that unspoken sentence clicked something inside of you. A switch that you had been holding down for so long - ever since Luke had stopped paying attention to you as much. Ever since he slowly stopped caring about you, stopped noticing you, stopped trying in this relationship.

Ever since he stopped loving you.

And those unspoken words clicked on that switch that you had been struggling to keep down, and suddenly all your hurt and anger and sadness and pain and rage came flooding out of the traps you had so heavily guarded in your heart. 

You’re tired of me? Well then I’m fucking exhausted with you. All you ever do is act like you don’t even care and ignore me! 

It was silly and childish and you should’ve worded it better or never said it at all, but the cage that you had built for your turbulent emotions was gone and you were feeling every punch of pain and loneliness, every kick of anger and rage bubbling inside of you, ready to explode.

Is that all you ever wanted from me? Some attention? Well I’m afraid you can’t get everything you want in your life, sunshine. Not all of us have the time to bow down to your glory, sorry.

His lips curl up into a sneer, and the previous tiredness in his eyes faded as anger started to seep in.

I’m so sick of putting my everything into this relationship when you clearly don’t give a shit.

At this point, your body was rigid, your eyes starting to narrow into a glare.

And I’m so sick of you jumping on my back for every five seconds I’m not looking at you.

He had lit a fuse with that, a ticking bomb inside of you that you didn’t know existed.

You were so furious at him - you put so much effort into your relationship, in making sure he was happy, he was cared for, in making sure he was supported and knew he was loved. You stood back when he needed you to and stayed loyal to him throughout it all. You endured his work schedule and his annoying little habits and dealt with all the tired excuses and lack of dates and separation and distance and you loved him but here he was, claiming that you were too much. Smothering him. 

That jerk. 

He had lit the fuse to a bomb inside of you - a bomb of anger and tiredness and frustration and lack of love - and you were ready to detonate in seconds.

Your firm words turned into sentences that ended in blades, meaning to cut one another. Then it soon became phrases that were meant to do the same damage as a punch. And quickly your words turned into the rapid fire of bullets from your mouths, words darting back and forth laced with venom and poison with steel edges and pointed blades at the end. 

And before you knew it, the both of you became short-fused bombs that went off every other second, spitting out insults and yelling at each other, exploding with every sentence that left your lips.

It was a battlefield, and it didn’t matter who won. 

You broke with every angry comment Luke said to your face, rebuilding yourself just in time to explode again, making sure you caught him in the crossfire.

He loomed over you, not like a solid wall of security and comfort like he usually was - Luke loomed over you like a shadow of darkness, making it all too easy to see all the cracks and fractures in the boy you loved.

You were waving your hands, yelling at him as your volumes increased into a full-blown screaming match. Your voice was starting to scratch and you could hear his do the same, but it stopped neither one of you from spitting out another bitter phrase, another angry comment.

You could feel the bitter tears forming in your eyes, but you refused to let them fall, refused to show a sign of weakness in the midst of the war. No, you would not let yourself be the fragile one any more. 

You could barely keep up with what you were saying, your anger coming in spurts and hisses, Luke’s doing the same. You heard his words and you threw them back at him, though many of them stayed embedded in your heart like knives.

Clingy. Stuck up. Brat. Insensitive. Intolerable. Thoughtless. Selfish. Needy.

You dished out your own knives too, in hopes that they’ll cut deeper than the ones Luke threw at you.

The words hurt. They left you broken and bleeding but you were too busy aiming and firing to tend to them. 

It was easier to throw your knives and your insults and your bombs and anger at him than it was to admit how shattered you were. To admit that you were just fragments of a lonely, hurt girl and start the slow, agonizing process of fixing what was left behind.

It was always easier to destroy than it was to rebuild.

You weren’t sure how long you’d been fighting for - it could’ve been a minute, an hour, a decade - all your negativity was pouring out and soon you’d be left breathless and empty and broken.

Your face was red from rage and you were panting from breathlessness when you glared at Luke, his cheeks equally as tinted and chest heaving.

I’m done. With this. All of this. I’m done with you, Luke.

You spat those words out, putting your last traces of venom into every syllable.

You’re dismayed to hear the crack in your words, the shaking tremor in your voice.

But what’s done is done and you couldn’t take your words back. You wouldn’t.

Not when so many of Luke’s words were shards of broken glass stabbed into your heart, just seconds away from crumbling what was left of you from the war.

You knew you had to get out of there before you fell to pieces, right in front of him. 

You had come too far; you would not break in front of him.

You didn’t want to stay in that battlefield any longer, not in that war-torn room with the intruder in the body of the boy that you loved so much. 

You had to leave. You had to escape.

You turned on your heel and walked the other way, giving him one last glower before walking away, forcing yourself not to tremble with every step. The fight left you weak, but you wouldn’t let him see that. 

You finally started to feel the tears stream down your face as soon as your eyes left Luke’s stormy ones. The tears were welling up in your eyes and you didn’t make a move to brush them away until you were sure you were far enough away from Luke.

You walked outside, the fresh, crisp air cooling your red face, your burning anger, the tears in your eyes.

You walked around aimlessly, trying to gather yourself up again. 

Deep breaths. Blink back the tears. Don’t think of Luke.

Think of the ocean crashing upon the shore like a rhythm to a song that nature played and how his eyes were the exact same colour as the waves. Think of a wide open field and your hands swinging as you run across it with Luke’s fingers entwined with yours. Think of the rain falling down in a constant, steady motion and Luke twirling a red umbrella above you, leaning down to kiss you, dipping rainwater all over himself.

No. Not that. You’ve got it all wrong. You’re not very good at this, are you?

You’re not very good at not loving Luke, even when you were absolutely livid at him.

You were lost in your thoughts - your stupid thoughts of Luke and how mad you were at him and how mad you were for him - so much that you didn’t see that the pedestrian walk sign had turned red.

You didn’t hear the engines. You didn’t see the headlights.

You didn’t hear the horn until it was too late, your eyes widening as the light came closer at an alarming speed, blinding you.

You felt it, though - the metal and aluminum and steel against your skin and bones and war-torn heart, colliding with a loud, sick crash that was louder than any stupid argument. 

And just like that, you were finally knocked down.


 request tweets, imagines, & gifs here!

Just as a reminder, we do not publish submitted creative writing. We’ve had a few people send us writing over the last couple of days, and I just want to make sure that everyone knows any submitted creative writing will be deleted from our inbox. 

We may not publish submitted creative writing, but here are a few writing blogs that do:

Just a little friendly reminder that author’s work hard on their fics, no matter what skill level they’re at. While they have access to beta’s and other support systems, they do not have access to professional editors, proofers and all the stuff that comes with writing novels (and seriously, there are fics out there that I have read that blow a lot of professionally written novels out of the water.)

Please be courteous when leaving feedback and doing it in a constructive manner and if the author is open to it. Most author’s are, but just know that they try their best and do this for free, so sometimes it may not be perfect. If you don’t have anything nice to say or don’t like the direction a fic is going in, just keep it to yourself and/or stop reading. It’s that simple. Don’t ruin things for others by giving an author a hard time.

PSA: What is Web Therapy?

Ok, so since Web Therapy is getting all these new viewers (even if it is only for that one episode with Darren and Mae), here is a little FAQ/intro, if you will, about the show.


Yes, it is improv. The writers Don Roos and Lisa Kudrow (yes she helps write the show) give an outline to the guest stars that they are to loosely follow, but otherwise Lisa and her guest stars are playing off each other. update: Improv requires a tremendous amount of talent and thinking on your feet, so anybody on the show is really amazing.


Yes, she is supposed to be bad. She’s supposed to be self-serving and egomaniacal. Lisa Kudrow came up with the idea because she said that people were getting errands via the internet, and hey, that’s a terrible idea to “get therapy out of the way” too. She does not endorse this “modality.” Apparently, when therapists are training, they now use Web Therapy to help students figure out what the errors are. And there are many.


The two (or three) people who are in the scene are all in different rooms. There’s a camera in front of each of them, and then there are little screens with the other people underneath (I think). In this case, Lisa, Darren, and Mae were all in separate rooms at some point. All the actors wear a little earpiece so they can hear what the other is saying.


Well, the whole show is pretty much guest star guest star guest star, but some off the top of my head: Megan Mullaly, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Courteney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, David Schwimmer (yes she got 3 of her Friends co-stars!), Dan Bucatinsky (except he’s part of her production company, as is Don Roos), Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch and that’s all I can remember at the moment.


Yes, she is. But not in this one. Please keep that in mind, she’s not trying to be Phoebe AT ALL. So don’t go comparing, because there’s no point.


It started in 2008, and in 2010 2011 got turned into a TV show on Showtime.