How We Wrote Classic Simpsons Episodes – Bill Oakley

Bill Oakley was a writer at The Simpsons from seasons 4-6 and an executive producer/showrunner with his writing partner Josh Weinstein from seasons 7-8.

This was the long process of writing one episode:

1. Work on story ideas. 2 months. Beginning, middle and an end: three acts, ideally including act breaks but doesn’t have to be complete.
2. Present story ideas to everyone. 15-20 minutes to present the story. Everyone else throws in their thoughts and jokes.
3. Writers room. 10-12 people. Go through scene by scene fixing any story problems. 1h – 3 days.
4. Write an outline. Way, way too long – up to an hour of television. ~40 single spaced pages.
5. Show runner gives notes and suggests cuts.
6. Two weeks to write the script. First draft ~62 pages.
7. Rewriters room. A few hours to a few weeks. Go through line by line under direction of show runner. To ~47 pages.
8. Table read.
9. Rewrite. 1-2 days. To ~42 pages.
10. Record!

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Brilliant book that is essential reading for anyone disillusioned or dismissive of the NHS and the work that hospital doctors do.

Not only is it a masterclass in funny, but it’s also a reminder that writing can sometimes matter deeply, if not Make A Difference. It is a highly empathic book that follows Adam’s 10 year career as a Junior Doctor, ending as his career did: suddenly and tramatically. He now makes a living as a comedian and script writer.

Recommended to me by Beth as one of the two best books she read in 2017. Incidentally, it was represented by Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.