Before mythology or adventures, a show needs to be about people true to life. No one is one-dimensional and no two people share the same exact limited point of views. Treat your characters as such.

A key part of writing for television is watching television. And learning from it.

Screenwriting lessons from Six Feet Under

Lesson 1: Life is a prism

Lesson 2: Less is more

Lesson 3: It’s about what is happening, not why

In other (canned) words: “it’s about the journey.”

Lesson 4: Unknown is better than known

What to take from the show (Part One)

Before mythology or adventures, a show needs to be about people true to life. No one is one-dimensional and no two people share the same exact limited point of views. Treat your characters as such.

Lesson 5: Play with expectations

Lesson 6: Have something to say

Lesson 7: It’s okay to think ahead

Despite all the somewhat hackneyed “live in the moment” stuff I said in Part One, a show needs to have some kind of plan, or rather arc(s). And I’m not talking about a smoke monster.
Six Feet Under had under its hood multiple arcs layered and mixed into each other. The show was as much about the characters as what happened to them.

Lesson 8: Stay with the emotions

What to take from the show (Part Two)

Stories need to be both relevant and interesting, but more than that they need to be engaging to the audience. Whether by intensifying its importance or managing expectations, the attention and structure given to a storyline is potentially as important as the plot itself.

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