A breakfast with TV showrunner Greg Berlanti yesterday highlighted the many different ways to collaborate with writers. We’ve heard on occasion how game companies run their writing staff like a television show. Having worked on many different shows, I always wondered which show they were referring to. Here are but two approaches to television collaboration that have worked quite well.
Neal Baer of LAW & ORDER: SVU runs his staff by working on a one-on-one basis with his writers. He helps them with the plot and structure phase of writing first. Afterwards, they collaborate to deepen the story by developing characters and their points of view. Neal’s method provides lots of room for long-distance collaboration.
Greg Berlanti, the man behind EVERWOOD, as well as ABC’s BROTHERS & SISTERS, ELI STONE, and DIRTY, SEXY MONEY, offered another perspective yesterday. Greg’s duty is to be the “mother hen, with a knife” to guard and guide ideas through the development process, so that the original inspiration doesn’t get lost. When developing story, Greg does his homework by creating the sign posts for a season arc. Once he has those guideposts down, he throws the rest out to his writers in the room. They work together to bang out the details. This method would work well with staff writers, or outsourced writers who worked on-site during the key story development process.
No matter how you work with your writing team, you may well find a precedent in television. What methods have worked for you in collaborating with other writers?
Guess that Game Dialog! No dialog this week, but President of JGI Entertainment Daryl Pitts favorite moment of game writing is: the death of Aeris. Do you know which game it happened in?