In exchange for a few hours volunteering last week, I was lucky enough to get a place in a masterclass by Paul Abbott as part of the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. He’s a writer I admire hugely, having written Clocking Off, a particular favourite of mine, and Shameless, Linda Green and Touching Evil as well as having involvement in numerous other respected projects. Amongst other things, he’s currently working on the US version of Shameless and a project called ‘Reading And Writing For Boys’.
Regarding what gets him writing, he mentioned the possibilities of wondering what someone will ‘do next’ if you were to invent it, and the challenge of, “I bet I can write what you’re thinking”.
On Shameless and writing the truth of a situation (the series was inspired by his own experiences in a family of 10), “even we didn’t know what we looked like from the outside… take the audience to a place they didn’t know they wanted to go… and compel them to watch”.
When writing a screenplay about anything, but particularly adaptations, “make all of it count but in fewer words”.
Writing TV series, and working out what succeeds and what doesn’t, “every series should be like a (music) album, and every episode is a track that has to deserve its place on the album”.