Hi, I’m Michael Jamin. I’m a television writer and a phrase that I hear a lot, which always gets under my skin is, why is TV so formulaic? And it’s not, okay?

Formulaic implies that there’s a formula and if there were a formula, they would have figured out a way to put this into a computer and have the computer write all these scripts. Because believe me, the studios and the networks would love a way to cut the writers out of the process. They would streamline things and make things a lot less expensive and they wouldn’t have to deal with pain in the asses like me. And believe me, I’m a pain. Don’t I seem like a pain in the ass? But they can’t get rid of us because they need us.

So when we say formulaic, there’s no formula, although there are certain moments in a script that every script has to have that make a story feel compelling, to push the action along and push the themes along. And so there are moments that every script, a good script should have, but it’s not a formula per se. If those moments are predictable, then you call it formulaic but there are ways to make it not predictable. That’s called good writing. So I don’t think it’s formulaic. I just think there’s bad writing.

For more tips on how to actually do good writing, you follow me here, you follow me everywhere. Follow me around, except in my rearview mirror. Don’t follow me in my rearview mirror @MichaelJaminWriter.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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