In Session: NBC Universal VP's Master Class on Writing for Television
Arts and Culture Lifestyle

In Session: NBC Universal’s Master Class on Writing for Television

Karen Horne, VP, sharing insights on Day 2 of the 2015 American Black Film Festival

There was little to gain for those looking for a direct path to becoming a television writer -  there isn’t one. “It’s honestly hard to get on as a TV writer and there is no one way,” stated Horne. “But building your network is a great start. Don’t write in a bubble. Join writing groups, come to events like ABFF, apply for programs, work on a show if you can, and just keep writing. Write great scripts and have a body of work to represent you.”

When asked what she looks for in writers who approach NBC Universal, Horne answered with the following:

1. Write because you can’t not write
2. Have a strong portfolio
3. Know television
4. Have a good sense of humor
5. Network
6. Location, location, location. If you’re going to write for television, you will most likely be writing in Los Angeles. Be willing to relocate.)

When Karen got down to the elements that make a good script, she offered these invaluable tips:

1. Start with a strong trigger incident. A trigger forces a character into a dilemma where a difficult choice has to be made.
2. The goal of the story comes from the choice the character makes when faced with this dilemma.
3. Every pivotal point in the story connects back to the character’s goal. What does your character want?

Key takeaway: If your story doesn’t work, the goal is not clear. won’t give away all of Horne’s tips, just know that this informative session was a treat for attendees, and that Horne’s insight was very much appreciated.

Okay, okay – just one more tip: Format your scripts! Horne made it very clear that typos and poor formatting is the easiest way to get your script trashed – and quickly. To ensure that your formatting is on point, consider using Final Draft.

For more information on Karen Horne and NBC’s diversity initiatives, be sure to follow her on Twitter @khorne1234. For more information and tips on writing for television, visit

For complete coverage of the 2015 American Black Film Festival, visit or follow along on social media using #ABFF2015. For more information on the films, schedules, and activities, download the BE Events app on iTunes or Google Play.