London Screenwriters' Festival 2014
'Creating the Nonlinear TV Series'
Nowadays, everyone wants to write for TV. And nonlinear and flashback storytelling are becoming almost as common in TV series and digital drama as they are in feature films. Naturally, both TV veterans and newcomers want to create TV drama one-offs and series in these complicated and exciting forms. Unfortunately, writers who've never written in TV and have only ever been exposed to the one-hero approach to scriptwriting are simply unaware that writing TV is a completely different ball game from film, while nonlinear, while wonderful when it works, is very hard to do.
Even writing the simplest of TV series at the simplest level involves a whole other set of craft skills from one hero screenplays - like interweaving storylines, writing to budget and writing to the second. The challenge here is that all of these things impact massively on the length and type of stories you can tell and how you can tell them. Meanwhile, creating a series that is capable of running for years and devising episodes and series arcs is in another league of difficulty again.
Hence, unlike the veterans, who realise that TV writing of all kinds involves a minefield of creative restrictions and who regard nonlinearity in multiple storylines as a very hard call, newcomers tend to enter the minefield unprepared and thus at a very serious disadvantage. TV series may look easy. They aren't, and they're hard in the most unexpected ways.
Linda Aronson, the guru of nonlinear and ensemble film writing spent many writing and creating TV drama of all kinds as well as writing fiction, film and plays for theatre and radio. At the 2014 London Screenwriters' Festivel she combined her practical TV experience with her expertise in nonlinear narrative to explain the basic craft problems of TV writing for newcomers and to show writers of all levels to how they can apply the templates she created for writing nonlinear and fractured film to creating - and fixing - nonlinear one-off and series drama for TV.
Linda's lecture refers to her book on conventional TV Writing Television Writing: the Ground Rules of Series, Serials and Sitcom https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Television_Writing.html?id=8j1AYBJKWvQC&hl=en