The Mail I Get – Foot in Door Edition

AFootInTheDoorEvery day I get emails from people asking me how to break into television. Here’s one that stood out this week…

I often find myself thinking that I have a “voice” that can be fine tuned into a television writing machine.  I was captain of my basketball team and voted biggest flirt and class clown.  I recently got in trouble for underage drinking at my buddy’s house and, even though I won’t get in a lot of trouble, still seem to find the funny in all of it.  As I sat on the floor of my friends house after receiving our Minor in Possession of Alcohol ticket, I couldn’t help but notice how nice the paper felt.  I didn’t think that this whole process will cost me hundreds of dollars, or how ashamed my parents were going to be, but about how silky the texture of this ticket felt.  I recently read your article on how to write a spec for an already running TV show.  It got me thinking that I can write in this industry.  Now I know that I need to craft my talent but I definitely have the self-motivation to succeed.  One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson and he says, “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”.  I believe in this 100%.  My question to you is, how does someone get their foot in the door of this business?

It requires more than a voice, or being a flirt, or appreciating the texture of a ticket. You need to have some writing skills and you have to learn the craft of screenwriting. It’s a good thing you’re willing to work hard, because you will have to. I’d start by taking a screenwriting class. You could also read Richard Walter’s book The Essentials of Screenwriting and my book Successful Television Writing for more tips.

2 thoughts on “The Mail I Get – Foot in Door Edition”

  1. A flirt and class clown who’s also an underaged drinker. Wow, how can the industry pass that up? I hope the books instruct that future “television writing machine” to treat writing as a business.

  2. Absolutely, your book, “Successful Television Writing,” was wonderful, and it’s great advice for the email writer to read it.

    You know, Lee, It is obvious to me that you know more about the behind-the-scenes world of TV than anybody, and that when you write about it, the sheer realism comes through and makes an impact. When you wrote, “The Walk,” it was the realism that made it. When you wrote, “King City,” the scenes between the hero and his daughter were so real, that’s what made it special. Instead of writing about a doctor-detective (“Diagnosis Murder”) which you are not, or an SFPD obsessive-compulsive (“Monk”) which you are not, or a totally self-conscious neophyte (“Mapes”) which you are not, or a farcical TV world (“Dead Space”) which you don’t inhabit, why don’t you just write about yourself in TVLand the way Tori Spelling did in her first memoir, “sTORI Telling.” It sold 800,000 copies, just laid out the truth,
    but it did create a catharis for the reader. Your own real life is more exciting, detailed, full of industry-conflict and joys than any that occur in a fantasy world. Your blogs are more involving, deep, issue-intensive and full of values and conflicts than any Rockford episode, and those sold. You are your own TV franchise just as Erle Stanley Gardner was his own franchise. Reality is what sells. That’s what the audience wants. And you are so deeply in touch with the reality of your own world.

    Anyway, I’ve stated my position. Great reply to the email, you’ve helped that guy.


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