Worst Thing Writers Can Do To Their Work – Kelly Edwards

Film Courage: I think you’ve said you write for emotion not for gimmicks?

Kelly Edwards, Staff Writer, Author, Producer:  Yeah, I think that sometimes particularly when writers are starting from concepts and not really delving into the reason why people show up which is the character. Characters are motivated by their emotions, right? When you are writing and you’re writing from just plot it’s less engaging than if you’re writing from character.


What is this character going to do?

Why would they want to do this?

What’s the reason?

Who are the stakes that they’re doing it for?


When you’ve got those things and you’re working from the inside-out, it’s a lot more emotional. I will connect to your material a lot more, we will all feel something. When you’re writing from the inside-out (as opposed to the outside-in) and you can start with the outside, obviously you need something (plot) to hang it on. But if you’re not doing the work underneath it, if you’re just giving cool fight scenes and you’re not really delving into Why is there a fight scene? Then you’re going to lose your audience for sure.

Film Courage: Let’s say if I’m doing a coming-of-age drama of some woman that’s hanging out at Venice beach all the time and she’s kind of floundering and she’s doesn’t know if she’s going to go to college, doesn’t know if she can even afford to go, but it’s a cool gimmick and we can have skateboarders and all of these interesting characters around her but I’m not getting to really her story, I’m just it’s too flat.

Kelly: I think you have to get underneath the character and figure out well what is she really motivated? What does she want to do? What’s her goal? Because you don’t want a passive character who’s just sitting on the beach. You want someone who wants to do something. What is that something and then why does she want to do that thing so if you have to it writing is really unearthing so much of you have to get underneath everything in order to have something that really resonates and and that’s the hard part that’s the hard work that sometimes writers don’t want to do it’s scary because it’s you have to tap into your own stuff and when you tap into your own stuff then you can you can share it with somebody else and they can they can tap into theirs and isn’t that really why we’re doing all this anyway we’re sharing emotions otherwise who cares right who was the first character that you you felt a connection with oh my goodness a television character film television in a book where you really felt like you were in that person’s skin you knew you knew that world you knew who they were wow that’s a I don’t even know I don’t even know if I could rewind the tapes…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

See it on Amazon here

SEE THE BOOK ON AMAZON – The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Series Development by Kelly Edwards 




As HBO and WarnerMedia’s SVP of Talent Development for seven years, Kelly Edwards oversaw all of the emerging artists programs for HBO, HBOMax, and Turner, both domestic and abroad. Edwards’s career spans both television and film, having served as a key corporate diversity executive at Comcast/NBCUniversal and a creative executive for both film director Garry Marshall and producer Laura Ziskin. After moving to television, she spent six years as a senior executive at Fox, where she developed Living Single, Clueless, and The Wild Thornberrys. As SVP of Comedy Development at UPN, she developed Girlfriends, The Parkers, and Malcolm in the Middle. Edwards also produced the movie of the week A Christmas Detour for Hallmark, and the one-hour drama series Sex, Love, and Secrets. She holds a BA in Theater from Vassar and an MFA in Screenwriting from Emerson. Edwards has served on the Annenberg Inclusion Board, the UNCF Leadership Council, the ATAS Diversity committee, as a Trustee for NALIP, and is a 2019 Sundance Episodic Lab fellow. Kelly’s book The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Series Development is now available (via Michael Wiese Productions). 










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