BPS 115: Writing the Netflix/TV Drama Series with Pamela Douglas

Alex Ferrari • April 29, 2021

There’s always been a feel-good, easy-times nostalgia for the 80s and 90s TV shows. More so now that we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the plethora of shows we have to pick from. If you feel me then you will enjoy this conversation. Our guest today is the award-winning screen and television writer, professor, and best-selling author, Pamela Douglas.

Pamela is a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America and a USC School of Cinematics Arts tenure professor for screenwriting.  She is credited for her writing on shows/series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Ghostwriter (1992) to name a few.

Aside from her awesome career as a screenwriter, she’s an international writer with multi-lingual adaptations of her books (German, Mandarin, Italian, French, Korean, and Spanish). Pamela packed her expertise in her 2018 revised fourth edition of her 2008 book ‘Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV.‘

The book is a complete resource for anyone who wants to write and produce for television drama series or create an original series, as well as for teachers in screenwriting classes and workshops. It leads the reader step-by-step through every stage of the development and writing process, offering practical industry information and artistic inspiration. The Fourth Edition leads readers into the future and engages provocative issues about the interface between traditional TV and emerging technologies. It’s also the single most comprehensive source on what is happening in original television drama around the world, with surveys of 15 countries.

As you will learn in this episode, Pamela’s passion for writing goes back to her childhood. Even though she’s dabbed in screenwriting for movies, she’s discovered throughout her career that television carries a bigger pull in terms of communicating ideas, stories, characters, life, and experience. Its essence allows for vertical story-telling, expansion, and continuity to reveal newer plots and characters.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is a classic sci-fi series set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk’s five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before – the exploration of the Milky Way galaxy.

Ghostwriter is an American children’s mystery television series that revolves around a circle of friends from Brooklyn who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries as a team of young detectives with the help of a ghost named Ghostwriter who can only communicate through writing and words.

Chatting with a seasoned screenwriter like Pamela, there is so much wealth of knowledge packed in every word. We talked about presentation reelers, the forex structure and her approach to it, and why she thinks The Wire is the best show of all time in terms of character, layering, and sterilized storytelling.

Enjoy this conversation with Pamela Douglas.