Our summer camps provide writers with a creative, enriching experience that allows them to explore their imaginations while also building confidence and developing literacy skills.
We spoke with Lizzie Finn, who is teaching The Dreamers Writers’ Room: Writing a TV Pilot for students ages 12-16 (Weeklong: August 1 – August 5, 1 to 4 p.m. ET, Red Bank Borough Schools) to find out more about her and what to expect in this camp.
Read more about The Dreamers Writers’ Room here.
PWN: What can campers expect from The Dreamers Writers’ Room?
LIZZIE: Campers will be immersed in a writers’ room where we will work together as a group to write a half-hour TV pilot. As prep for writing that pilot, we will discuss TV shows we love, watch video clips, and read actual TV scripts. We will brainstorm an original concept and then build a unique world for our TV show by creating intriguing characters to inhabit that world. Lessons will be built around understanding TV structure (including A-B-C stories), creating interesting dialogue, and increasing tension through conflict and stakes. We will first outline our pilot before embarking on the first draft. In the final class, we will read through our draft and make suggestions for revisions and future episodes.
PWN: What makes TV writing different from other writing?
LIZZIE: In television, writers are often hired to staff writers’ rooms, which means they come together as a group. It is probably the most collaborative form of writing. In other forms of writing, writers are working alone and can feel isolated. There is a lot of pressure on the solo writer to be good at all aspects of writing. In a writers’ room, everyone brings their unique skills and talent into the group, which makes the group stronger. While the TV writer goes off alone (or with a partner) to write an individual episode, they do so after the story has already been thoroughly discussed and outlined within the group. The showrunner is the boss, overseeing the entire writing process and production to ensure the show has a consistent creative vision across each episode.
PWN: What is a screenplay you’ve written that you love/are proud of and why?
LIZZIE: Picking a favorite screenplay is like picking a favorite child—it can’t be done. I truly love them all equally because each one contains my blood, sweat, and tears. And each screenplay is unique in its own special way. I’ve written about a lovesick German prisoner-of-war during WW2, a grieving Native American warrior who saves her tribe from destruction, and an heiress who battles a curse in her own home. Each protagonist is different but has a little part of my DNA in them. They’re my creative babies, and I’m proud of them all.
PWN: Why do you write?
LIZZIE: Funny, I ask myself that question almost weekly. There are much easier ways to spend your time. Writing is time-consuming and hard, and often nobody sees my handiwork product but me. And yet, it’s also my passion. I can’t imagine not waking up and feeling compelled to write something. My mind is always observing, analyzing, and forming an opinion or commentary on the world around me. I don’t think I could stop even if I wanted to. New stories just keep popping up inside my brain daily.