If you're an aspiring television writer, then you probably dream of the day that you'll finally score a job granting you access to the room where it happens, the writers' room! But how much do you know about writers' rooms? For instance, all the writers on a television show are, well, writers, but their jobs can be broken down more specifically than that, and there's an actual hierarchy to the various positions. Keep reading to learn about all the jobs in a writers' room and where you might fit in one day!
We'll start at the pre-writing positions in the room and work our way up.
Jobs in the Writers' Room
Writers' Production Assistant
Some people might question why I put this job on the list since it's not technically a writing job, and writers' production assistants (PA) are not even in the room, but hey, we all have to start somewhere! That somewhere for many writers is a PA job. PA's run the office, answer phones, organize, do coffee and lunch runs, and handle any and all sorts of non-writing tasks. Everyone else is their boss, and they often are responsible for printing scripts, remembering staff birthdays, and sending out swag to fans. Once you're a writers' PA, you might find yourself moving up to a…
Writers' assistants have the critical task of taking thorough notes while brainstorming sessions are going on. Assistants also maintain the show bible, proofread drafts, and may even be asked to do any necessary research.
The script coordinator is not always in the writers' room because they often go between the writing and production departments. The script coordinator's job is to proofread the various drafts of a script, stay on top of and organize notes and revisions from the studio, maintain continuity, and make sure legal does a thorough review of the script so the studio doesn't get sued for anything in it. If a script coordinator stays on a show long enough and has an interest in writing, there may be an opportunity for them to pitch episode ideas and help write them, later becoming a …
Finally, a writing position! Staff writers are involved in brainstorming sessions to work on breaking stories and develop characters if not already established. You probably won't be able to pen your script at this point, but at least you're learning and are actively involved in the writing process.
Story Editors and Executive Story Editors
Story Editors have more experience, are regularly pitching ideas to the room, and are writing at least one episode of the show.
The title might say co-producer, but it just means a mid-level writer who's been around a bit.
Producers are well-seasoned writers who have accepted additional responsibilities beyond just writing. You might be asked about creative direction, and you may make some production decisions or sit in during casting sessions.
Now we're reaching the top tier of the hierarchy! The supervising producer handles many responsibilities, including working with and leading the writing staff through story development. If the showrunner and the executive producer aren't available, the supervising producer would be in charge of the writers’ room.
The second to the showrunner, their job is to ensure that the showrunner's vision is carried out. At this level, co-executive producers are involved in casting, editing, and as many other non-writing responsibilities as the showrunner decides to give you. If the showrunner is working on more than one show, then the co-executive producer may take on more responsibility, such as giving a draft of a script clearance to go forward.
Executive Producer or Showrunner
The executive producer, also known as the showrunner, runs the show. They may have created the show or were a co-executive producer who took over when the previous showrunner stepped down. This job is at the top of the show's food chain. The showrunner has the final word on all show areas, including budgeting, staffing, casting, and editing. They're responsible for the overall look and feel of the show. The show is their vision.
Well, that's the writers' room for you! Writers often move from job to job, working their way up through the hierarchy as they go. Hopefully, this blog sheds some light on the details of the various jobs that exist within the writers' room and what roles you may want to pursue! Happy writing!