Reviewed by Danielle Beckman
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Here’s a radical idea: you can make a living at your art, while enjoying your work. At first this seemed impossible to Shonda Rhimes, but once she started telling the stories she felt strongly about, she started to collaborate with the right people and got her shows produced. As the creator of the television empire Shondaland and writer of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and many other prolific shows, Shonda Rhimes’ Masterclass offers incomparable insight on how to become a competitive television writer.
Shonda’s wisdom is a gift that will keep on giving, and while I found three big takeaways that I’ll share with you at the end of this article, here are a few nuggets of insight her Masterclass provides:
The minute the work of writing stops being about YOU and starts being about the STORIES you tell and what you can “give back” in the world–that’s when you’ll soar.
BE ORIGINAL in your use of dialogue and let your characters be intelligent! It’s okay to research about a character who is not in your specific field. There is so much at our fingertips to discover, and the smarter your characters, the better.
Become familiar with what different types of television shows look like. Study procedurals, comedies, and serialized shows. Understand how the shows work so that you can get the formula down to a science. Then and only then, if you want to go and break all the rules, you’ll know what rules you’re breaking!
Super practical insight: have a place to keep your ideas! Shonda keeps on on the notes section of her phone. She also uses a journal, but she since she doesn’t have that with her at all times, so she sticks to her phone. Do whatever it takes to keep your fresh ideas and inspirations at top of mind – keep a running tally instead of post-it notes all over your house if you need to!