Tips for Writing for Television

Tips for Writing for Television
Terry Odell

Writing for Television

Image by Bokskapet from Pixabay

Are you a fan of television mystery shows? Ever thought of writing one? Or any kind of television show? If so, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.
  2. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of year.
  3. It’s easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down
  4. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off, even while SCUBA diving.
  5. The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.
  6. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.
  7. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds
  8. When paying for a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a bill—just grab one at random. It will always be the correct fare.
  9. During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
  10. Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.
  11. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.
  12. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.
  13. All single women have a cat.
  14. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.
  15. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts. Your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one, by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessor.
  16. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish
  17. Dogs always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.
  18. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their archenemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gases, lasers, and man eating sharks that will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.
  19. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
  20. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Okay, tongue was inserted firmly in cheek. But sometimes, you just want to sit back and have some fun.

Any favorites among these? Any to add?

Trusting Uncertainty by Terry OdellNow available for Preorder. Trusting Uncertainty, Book 10 in the Blackthorne, Inc. series.
You can’t go back and fix the past. Moving on means moving forward.

Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

47 thoughts on “Tips for Writing for Television

  1. Good morning, Terry. Thanks for the laughs. #15 was my favorite. I never knew there was an honor code with martial arts – one at a time. They may as well just line up. I can’t think of any other tips, but if I do, I’ll come back and get in line.

  2. Good morning, Terry! Thanks for brightening my day. This list is a keeper. It’s tough to pick a winner. Maybe #12? I should note that sometimes #14 is true.

    I do have one addition…no matter what city your movie is set in, a parking spot, right where you want it and need it, is ALWAYS available.

    Have a great day, Terry.

    • I used to wonder what those barrels were doing on the freeway. Not sure I’ve seen them anywhere else. I shall have to ponder that for a while. On our mountain roads, metal guard rails tend to be missing until some mysterious quota of cars go over the edge.

  3. Oh, my gosh – this is hilarious! Thanks for a fun start to the day. I have often wondered if the people making these films ever lived in the real world. It’s all clear now that they aren’t clueless, there are just rules. I’m going to be laughing at this for days.

  4. Hilarious, Terry. Chuckled all the way through.

    Rule 1 A. There must be a thunderstorm at the haunted house and lightning knocks out power just as the villain is sneaking up on the lady in revealing underwear.

  5. Haha. Great way to start the day, Terry! A young girl, scantily clad, should always wander into a secluded area alone, especially with a crazed killer on the loose. 😉

  6. Number 17 made me laugh. “Dogs always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.” If it were my dog he would show the robbers where the Rolex is just to be petted.

  7. Terry, these are brilliant, hilarious, and so on point it hurts me from all the laughing.

    My own contribution: the new by the book detective paired with the departmental black sheep with a legendary reputation for breaking every rule in the book.

    And I couldn’t resist one more add: Rule 19A. The furious police chief demands our hero leaves their badge on his desk.

    Thanks for the boost this morning, I definitely needed it!

    • Thanks for your additions, Dale. And sorry to cause you pain. There’s also the ‘marking time to retirement’ detective paired with the eager rookie.

  8. When there’s a car chase, a motorcycle is always available and skinny enough to speed through bumper to bumper traffic.

    One day, I’d like to see the motorcycle-riding good guy get arrested while the bad guy gets away.

    Thanks for the list.

  9. I love this! Thanks for the morning chuckle.

    I would add that even when the electricity is working, you need to search the crime scene with an underpowered flashlight.

    I’ve also heard that police academies are training new officers to listen to the orchestras that accompanies them throughout the day. When the key changes or the violins switch to tremolo, it’s time to draw your weapon and look behind you.

    • Yes. How many times have you shouted “Turn on the LIGHTS” to the cops/CSIs.
      LOL on the music. Yes, Hubster and I poke each other when the ominous music starts. Bad things are destined to happen.

    • We are binge watching “Criminal Minds”. All searches must be in the dark with $1.98 flashlights. But they have a Gulfstream. Our tax money supports several FAQs about the FBI stating that the BAU does not have a jet.

  10. This is great, Terry. I love the list.

    I would combine several of your rules into another one: Said single, scantily clad woman with cat should have a bad relationship with honorable, suspended detective who nevertheless protects her from German-speaking cad by having her move in to his apartment. Maybe we could work an airplane into that somehow.

  11. I love TV mystery/crime shows! But, there are some scenes…

    My favorites in your list, Terry, are #s 9 & 12. Always wondered about those teeth…

    And to add to your list: there is no such thing as an overweight, plain Jane female officer. And her gun always rides in exactly the right place to show off her curves. Oh, and don’t forget her artificial nails…they never get in the way of her trigger pull. 🙂

  12. Great! And this one resonates with me: 11. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

    I’m always analyzing these interior night scenes, as in: where’s the light coming from? I love it when someone is holding a candle in front of them, but the shadow is off to the side. Or, the light source is below, but the shadows are going *down*. Drives my wife crazy when I do this.

  13. #5A The ventilation ducts will support the 250 pound detective and his party of five.

    #14 I recall a movie review of a Dirty Harry movie that included the line, “If Uzis were that inaccurate the history of the Middle East would be vastly different.”

    #18 led to this game, “Before I Kill You Mr. Bond”

    Alas, Bond’s solicitors have no sense of humor. It is now called “Totally Renamed SPY Game”

  14. This is what romance readers call a too-stupid-to-live list, and science fiction/fantasy/horror readers call an evil overlord list. It’s what writers call a too-lazy-to-write list. I’ve created a TSTL list for my blog. Let me pull out a few favorites you missed.

    A heroine may be too-stupid-to-live if she

    Doesn’t change her lock or improve security after a serial killer breaks in her home and leaves a threatening note. Nor does she consider staying elsewhere.

    Sends her guards home after the so-far-inept police decide they have captured the serial killer.

    The heroine gets hot for the hero and does something about it when the bad guys are near.

    The trained assassin is sneaking up on her professional bodyguard so the heroine, with no fighting training, attacks him herself rather than yelling a warning.

    The “Full Moon Killer” is savaging locals. The creepy guy next door reeks of Nair, wears flea colors, and buys large boxes of Milk Bones although he doesn’t own a dog, but the heroine isn’t suspicious because “werewolves don’t exist.”

    The heroine has an entire troop of bad guys after her, but she doesn’t call in reinforcements, seek help from the police, or tell the hero she’s in trouble.

    She has the only copy of some incriminating documents, and she doesn’t make copies, or put them in a safety deposit box in her bank. Instead, she leaves them in her apartment.

    The heroine’s blind date drinks really red Bloody Marys, has a bad overbite, and stares at her jugular vein instead of her large boobs, but she isn’t suspicious because “vampires don’t exist.”

    The bad guy asks her to meet him to exchange the documents for the hero, and she goes without back up or a weapon.

    Bad guys are after the heroine so she picks high heels instead of running shoes because she’d rather die than be unfashionable.

    The heroine starts a verbal battle with the hero while they are trying to sneak up on the bad guys.

    The classic Evil Overlord list:

  15. What a fun start to the day, Terry!

    My favorites are #4, #10, and #15.

    I would add that the detective or PI never needs to look over their shoulder before pulling out of a parking spot into heavy city traffic. The traffic gods are always on their side.

  16. I think others have mentioned this, but TKZ has been buggy lately. Last few weeks. Sometimes to daily post isn’t available until the following day or else it appears and disappears midday. Also, the comments sometimes don’t load at all even if the little icon shows “42 comments” etc. I’ve noticed this is the case on both the desktop and mobile versions. Not sure who manages this stuff for the site but may need some looking in to.

    • Thanks, Phillip. Yes, I’ve noticed it. I’ll forward your comment to our web guru. In the past, she’s said it’s a cache-clearing issue, but I’m not enough of a techie to say whether that’s at the root of the problem.

  17. If a detective (male or female) is married, the spouse splits because the detective spends more time and energy with the job than with the spouse.

    If a detective has a children, at least one is either a surly teenage girl or a boy, of any age, who gets involved with drugs, gambling, or criminals.

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