Creating and Writing the Next Buzzworthy TV Show: Building the Perfect “Puzzle Box” Series
ABOUT THE WEBINAR
Even in this new golden age of television drama, there is always one series that sets the bar for everyone else – fifteen years ago it was The Sopranos, then Mad Men, then Breaking Bad.
Today, shows like Westworld are the ones that every writer is trying to duplicate. But it’s not just gritty content that will be influencing new series for the next few years – it’s a new, bold, complex storytelling paradigm that is already taking over.
The “puzzle box” show – a story that appears to be one thing until you reach the key that unlocks the mystery, and then it turns out to be something entirely different – are immensely popular. You may think that means simply throwing in a twist ending, but these series are far more complex than that. They work on multiple levels simultaneously, telling both the surface story and the real story so skillfully the audience is never aware of what they’re really seeing until the storyteller chooses to reveal it.
With this puzzle box paradigm spreading to streaming shows like Netflix’s The OA and even network sitcoms like The Good Place, many writers will be eager to try it for themselves. But there are real risks to attempting a puzzle box pilot – and a failed one will look more like a collection of tricks than a coherent and complex dual story. I know these challenges first hand, as I have spent the last few months constructing a puzzle box thriller for Chinese television, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
This webinar will explore the structure of Westworld and other puzzle box hits to determine what makes one of these shows work, what elements are necessary for success, and how to avoid the traps this new paradigm offers.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- How “puzzle box” shows are structured to tell two contradictory stories at once
- And why it’s done this way
- How other series are using the same structures as Westworld
- How a puzzle box structure can add depth and power to your concepts
- What makes Westworld the most exciting show on TV today
- How the new style is spreading and why it’s spreading now
- What kinds of problems a failed puzzle box pilot will run into – and how to avoid them
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
- Writers who want to keep ahead of Hollywood trends
- Writers who are looking for new ways to tell stories
- Writers who are inspired by these new shows but don’t understand what makes them work
- Writers who are looking for ways to spice up their pilots
- Writers who want to challenge themselves
- Writers who are trying to decide if this new style is right for them and their stories
- Anyone who loved Westworld and wants a deeper understanding of how it works and what it means
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Meet the Author: William Rabkin
Veteran TV writer/showrunner is the author of the best-selling Writing the Pilot and the forthcoming Writing the Pilot: Creating the Series. He is an associate professor of television writing and producing at Long Island University-Brooklyn’s TV Writers Studio, an assistant professor of screen and television writing at University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts and in Stephens College’s Low Residency MFA in TV and Screenwriting. Twice nominated for the Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, he is currently developing and writing a 12-episode “puz...