From The Writers' Room Featuring Bookburners

Brian Francis Slattery on writing Bookburners S2E10: “One With the World”

BB_SII_Ep_10_ebook_600x960If Episode 8 was the easiest one of the season to write, Episode 10 was the hardest. As with the previous season, we had envisioned the last four episodes of the season as being pretty tightly wound together, telling a kind of finale of a story. But while last season had stories within stories built into its design, this one didn’t as much.

Which meant that Episode 10 was pretty much all exposition—particularly for our main characters, who don’t really find out what’s going on until the very end. There were pieces to put in their places. There was tension to build. But by design, none of it could be released. It flew in the face of a few rules we’d set for ourselves as Bookburners writers, and so as I sat down to write it, I was a little worried.

Now’s a good time to mention (again?) that I have a raging case of impostor syndrome. I’m always worried that what I’m writing isn’t nearly good enough, that I will hand in a draft and have my fellow writers just say, “nope. In fact, you’re fired.” On this one, I worried about it even more than usual.

As it turned out, my fears were justified—though not as much as I thought. I wasn’t fired. And armed with feedback from my fellow writers (we have meetings to discuss the first drafts of all the episode), the goings on in Middle Coom snapped into focus on the second draft, as I revised some sections and wrote more of others. The essential problem of this being the first Bookburners episode that is mostly exposition remained. But I noted, with great satisfaction, the ways that Andrea, Margaret, and Max took the baton and ran with it, fast, to a lot of really fun places.

So in the end, writing Episode 10 was a great reminder of how collaborative the process of writing Bookburners really is. Aside from the story summits (Season Three’s is just about to start!) and our meetings by Google chat, we don’t really see very much of each other. We write all our episodes by ourselves. But the truth is that we’re working very closely together, each one mindful of the other, and it’s that collective work that makes Bookburners what it is. Our fictional team may be riven with internal tensions and frayed relationships, but two seasons in and heading for a third, our actual writing team is closer than ever.

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