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Write to TV - Out of Your Head and onto the Screen, 2nd Edition

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  • Author: Martie Cook
  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press: 2014
  • ISBN: 9780415710893

Learn to craft smart, original stories and scripts for a variety of television formats and genres, including comedy, drama, pilots, animation, made-for-TV movies, late night, and reality television. Hear directly from studio and network executives, agents, and managers on what they’re looking for in new writers and how to avoid common pitfalls. Gain access to sample outlines, script pages, checklists, and countless other invaluable resources that will help you break into the industry and put you on the path to immediate success.

In Write to TV, Second Edition industry veteran Martie Cook offers practical advice on writing innovative television scripts that will allow you to finally get that big idea out of your head and onto the screen. This new edition has been updated to include:

  • Tips and techniques from industry vets Jay Leno, Norman Lear, Paul Haggis, David Magee, Susan Rovner, Tal Rabinowitz, Jonathan Littman, Peter Jankowski, Steve Stark, and Doug Herzog that you can immediately apply to your own projects
  • Expanded coverage of writing pilots, pitching, writing webisodes, writing for tweens, writing for late night, and rewriting
  • Useful advice for navigating the confusing television hierarchy, including how to network, get an agent, land that first writing job, and even "do lunch"
  • 25 new interviews with writers and producers of hit shows such as New Girl, Parks and Recreation, The Blacklist, Curb Your Enthusiasm, CSI, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and many more
  • An all new companion website (www.writetotv.com) featuring blog updates, industry trends, a Q&A discussion forum with the author, and many other resources

Author Bio
Martie Cook has over three decades of experience as a respected writer and producer of television and film. She has worked for all four major networks and PBS as well as for Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, and Universal Studios. A member of the Writers Guild of America West, Cook has written for hit television shows such as the top-ten Nielsen rated Full House, and the cult classic, Charles in Charge. She has served as a writer/producer for Entertainment Tonight, America's Most Wanted, and the PBS Emmy-award winning children's show Zoom. Recently, she sold an idea for a pilot to Jerry Bruchkeimer Television, Warner Bros., and NBC. Cook currently teaches screenwriting at Emerson College in Boston, MA, where she also serves as Assocaiate Chair in the Visual and Media Arts Department.

"Martie Cook has one of the best minds out there when it comes to writing for television. Her experience and insight played a crucial role in shaping my writing career, and I'm thrilled for the aspiring writers who will surely benefit from the wisdom in these pages!"

– Jon Rineman, Writer, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

"Martie Cook's Write to TV is required reading for anyone considering a career in TV writing. More than any other single thing, I owe my success to following her teachings."

– Matt Fusfeld, Writer/Producer New Girl; Community; American Dad

"I think this is about the best book on writing for television out there. I hope it sells like crazy because television will be better for it."

–Peter Dunne, Emmy and Peabody Award-Winning Writer/Producer, CSI; Melrose Place; Dallas; Knots Landing; Author, Emotional Structure

"Write to TV takes you inside the minds of writers, producers, and network suits in this brutally honest book. A ‘must read’ for anyone who has the dream of making it in Hollywood. I wish I had read this book 20 years ago!"

– Glenn Meehan, Producer, The Talk; Little People, Big World; Entertainment Tonight

"Martie Cook’s Write to TV is the best book I’ve found on the subject in 20 years as a prime time writer/producer and 15 years as a college professor teaching the subject. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn the ins and outs of writing TV comedy and drama."

– Ross Brown, Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts, Dodge College at Chapman University; Writer, The Cosby Show; Who's the Boss?; Step By Step; Author, Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet

"Write to TV is an invaluable resource not just for writers but for anyone interested in getting the inside scoop about the way the industry works and how to break in. It gives an extensive overview of the current world of TV and a step-by-step guide for the new writer in town. It's anecdotal yet informational, entertaining yet insightful. Because the author has lived this experience, she can give a first hand step-by-step account of how you get from that first pitch to the on-screen credit."

– Libby Beers, Executive Producer, The Christmas Ornament; Bringing Ashley Home

"Martie Cook imparts a tremendous amount of knowledge in a way that is both easy to understand and entertaining. It is like having a mentor in book form."

– Christopher Crowe, Writer, The Last of the Mohicans; Fear

"Martie Cook’s Write To TV is a smart ‘How It Is’ book. It’s an inspiring and edifying insider’s first-hand experience and knowledge imparted lovingly and entertainingly. It’s a book you can’t set down once you begin and when you’re done you’ll know what it takes to be successful in breaking into the business—the rest is up to you."

– Hassan Ildari, Writer/Director, Face of the Enemy; Assistant Professor, Emerson College



  • An Overview of the TV Industry;
  • Getting Your Scripts Read;
  • Situational Comedies;
  • Developing Your Sitcom Story;
  • Sitcom Structural Outlining;
  • Your Sitcom Story;
  • Scripting Your Sitcom;
  • Other Kinds of TV Comedy;
  • Plot-Driven Dramas;
  • Character Driven Drama;
  • Formatting for Prime Time Drama;
  • The Television Pilot;
  • Finding an Original Premise;
  • Made for TV Movies;
  • Creating Compelling Characters;
  • Writing Dialogue that Dances on the Page;
  • How to Get a Pitch Meeting;
  • A Mock Assignment;
  • The Shoot;
  • Writing the Script;
  • In the Edit Bay and Beyond;
  • Writing for Reality Television;
  • How to Get An Agent;
  • The Writers Guild of America;
  • Writing Teams;
  • How to Get Work as a Television Writer;
  • Getting the Interview;
  • Congratulations,
  • You've Got the Job…. Now What?;
  • The Power of Networking;
  • Other Things That Can Help You Succeed
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