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Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box Paperback – May 30, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Epstein, author of Crafty Screenwriting (2002), draws on his experiences writing for the television shows Naked Josh and Charlie Jade to create an essential guide for those hoping to break into television writing. Epstein starts with the big picture by examining what great television series have in common: a hook that draws viewers in, compelling characters the audience cares about, and stories that unfold naturally on the small screen and make people want to return to the world of the show every week. From there he gets into the specifics of how to write a good script. Here he tells writers to create a beat sheet--something similar to an outline--of their episode before sitting down to write the script. After offering insightful writing hints and tips on how to write comedy, Epstein walks writers through finding jobs writing for television--and how to get along with everyone from story editors to show runners once one does. Enlightening and straightforward, this is a must for anyone who wants to write for television. Kristine Huntley
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Review

No need for me to ever write a book on TV writing. Alex Epstein has covered it all . . . along with a few things I wouldn't have thought of. Save yourself five years of rookie mistakes. Crafty TV Writing and talent are pretty much all you'll need to make it.
--Ken Levine, writer/producer, MASHCheersFrasierThe SimpsonsWingsBecker
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080285
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native New Yorker, Alex Epstein studied Computer Science and English at Yale University. After a year in Paris, he studied filmmaking at the University of California, Los Angeles in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, finishing with an MFA.

Throughout the 1990s, Epstein worked in the motion picture industry as a development executive. His first book, Crafty Screenwriting, came out of his experiences developing movies.

Epstein moved to Montreal in 2000 and began his career as a professional screenwriter. He co-created the comedy series Naked Josh, which ran for three seasons, and co-wrote the hit buddy cop comedy Bon Cop / Bad Cop.

He is currently writing features, directing shorts, and designing the narrative for the upcoming game Contrast.

Epstein lives in Montreal's Old Port with his wife, Lisa Hunter (author of The Intrepid Art Collector) and his two children.

Customer Reviews

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Scotto Moore on June 14, 2006
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I just finished my compulsive three-day read of "Crafty TV Writing" after following Epstein's blog for quite some time. The same things I like about his blog are totally on display here: straightforward, no-nonsense, right-to-the-point advice about every aspect of TV writing you can think of. He's got multiple audiences with this book: I imagine only a sliver of his readers are in a position to actually pitch pilots to important people, but there's still a ton to be gleaned about the techniques of episodic storytelling that are of use in a wide range of contexts - I picked up the book because I've been writing and developing episodic internet shows, for instance, and although I may never get to enjoy sitting in a professional writers' room, the insight into collaborative storytelling is quite valuable. Ultimately what I appreciate most about the book is that, like the best television, it's not pretentious; it acknowledges that television at its best is a wonderful art form, but it's also a craft, and frankly, it's also a day job for the people who are doing it right. Shed some romanticism and learn the nuts and bolts - that's what I appreciated most about this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Experienced professional television screenwriter and story editor Alex Epstein presents Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box, a solid writer's manual that covers all the bases. From the hidden structure of TV series, to turning great story ideas into workable scripts, the many tips, tricks, and techniques of a writer's toolkit, the realities of working in TV land (including how to break into the business, get hired, and get promoted!) and much more. Appendices, resources, and spot-on advice from direct personal experience distinguish this absolute "must-have" for aspiring and practicing television writers alike.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own both of Alex's books and I have to say that this is my favorite. What you'll get with this book is straight talk with workable examples. His take is fresh and his comments are clear.

There comes a time when you stop reading these kinds of books and you just start writing. I've cleared my writing bookshelf of how-to books, but Alex's two books remain. Make time for this read and you won't regret it.

JDC
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lee Goldberg VINE VOICE on November 23, 2007
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Alex Epstein's CRAFTY TV WRITING is a terrific new book full of great advice about the craft of episodic writing and insights into the business of television (and I'm not just saying that because he quotes liberally from me and my blog). If I didn't have a book of my own, Successful Television Writing, to recommend, this is the one I'd tell every aspiring TV writer to buy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By El Kil on June 22, 2006
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Great book. I've worked on a few late night shows, and Alex's blog and book have helped me shape my spec and move into scripted work. If you're getting ready to go to meetings, this book will give you the right language to use so you don't sound like an amateur. I completely recommend it, especially to stand-up comedians who want to write more than jokes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Archibald on April 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is perfect for beginners. It uses simply, practical words. Contains a glossary of terms. Displays an example of a breakdown, beat sheet, and Act. It's a straight forward book. Tells the ups and the downs of the business in both America and Canada. Tells you how to break in, and what to expect as a staffer among other things.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Max Rottersman on March 3, 2011
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I worried this book would repeat what I read in The TV Writer's Workbook by Ellen Sandler, which I also gave 5 stars.. Instead, it was a prefect complement.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Math Teach on February 26, 2007
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I've read many books on writing for film and television, and this is one of the best. What I like most about Alex Epstein's style is that it is immensely, if not compulsively, readable. His advice is practical and straightforward, and he approaches the topics in the book with a much appreciated playful sense of humor. There are books that are educational but pretentious and are a chore to go through, this book manages to be instructive and entertaining at the same time; it's a real gem. Highly recommended!
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