Ask a Mentor
Stay In Your Lane
TV writer Eric Tuchman (The Handmaid’s Tale, Stitchers) answers a question about whether new writers should stick to one genre when sending out material.
We can all use a little advice sometimes. Connect asked members to send in their questions about the profession for our knowledgeable WGAW members to answer. This week, Eric Tuchman (The Handmaid’s Tale, Stitchers) answers a question about whether new writers should stick to one genre when sending out material.
Question: “Most managers/agents say they want you to stick to one genre, because otherwise the execs will get ‘confused’ as to what you write. Do you have any recommendations about how to get repped and/or put yourself out there, when you write in more than one discrete genre?”
Eric Tuchman: If you’re a new writer trying to break in, and you’re passionate about more than one genre and have strong samples to show for it, that’s very impressive. I applaud you, and I’m jealous, too. I’d like to say follow your inspiration. If you can write several styles well, why limit yourself, right? You’d think your versatility would be an asset.
But this is a business full of busy people with short attention spans. You usually get one shot when an executive or producer wants to read your material or meet you. So, I don’t want to discourage you, but yes, it is harder for a rep to introduce and “sell” you if you don’t pick a lane and lead with your best script in one genre. It’s easier to identify you as a procedural writer than as a procedural writer who also writes historical drama.
If you focus on one style and your sample hits strongly, doors will open. Terrific. Once you’re working, establish yourself and get known for that style, then try to branch out later on. Meanwhile, discover your strengths. Develop what you bring to the table. Try to find a common thread between your genres of interest. If your reputation is for writing intimate relationship dramas, for instance, but you’re itching to write action and sci-fi, show how your skill is finding the emotional core of a story. You could become their go-to character writer while getting the chance to spread your wings in another genre. Remember, people always need to invest in and care about the characters, no matter what type of show.
Send your questions about the craft, job hunting, your career, or Guild service to Connect (under 100 words, please) with the subject “Mentor,” and we’ll send them to an established screen or TV writer to answer. Questions might be edited for space or clarity and will be published anonymously. WGAW mentors provide informal career advice and are not expected to read scripts, give notes, hear pitches, or help find representation or work.
Missed a previous “Ask a Mentor”? Read answers to these questions.