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Chicago Screenwriters Network (CSN) is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

CSN meeting, July 12, 2015: The Primacy of Character in TV Writing

Neal Howard & Ian StreicherOn Sunday, July 12, our guest speakers will be WGA-member Neal Howard and director / producer / writing instructor Ian Streicher, who will make a joint presentation on character-driven writing for television (and these principles extend to film writing as well).

While most commercial and independent screenplay writing emphasizes plot along with character, episodic TV writing is absolutely driven by character. To become a successful TV writer you must learn to master the voices and personalities of a multitude of characters. This skill will ultimately impact a script’s positive reception far more than developing good stories and snappy dialogue. You have to be equally comfortable channeling George Clooney as you are George Costanza and George Jetson. In addition to learning how to better grasp this creative challenge, information and anecdotes about the TV business will also be discussed.

Even for writers who are exclusively interested in film and not TV, everything covered in this talk will still be of significant value. Understanding the primacy of character relies on principles that underpin all forms of successful scriptwriting.

Neal Howard is a Writers Guild member who spent over six years in Los Angeles where he wrote for TV and film. His credits include the hit series “Coach” and “King of Queens” as well as other pilots, series and assignments for NBC, ABC, CBS, Universal, SONY, Regency and Spelling. He was also a contributing writer on episodes of “Law & Order”, “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

Ian Streicher has extensive theatre credits developing new plays. Off Broadway, he directed “The Sensational Josephine Baker,” which had a lengthy run at Theatre Row on 42nd St. Ian has also been a longtime student of film and has extensive experience as a writing teacher and coach.


As always, Sunday’s meeting will start at 6:00pm at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln Ave. (2nd fl.), Chicago; the presentation commences at 7:00pm, followed by Q&A.

CSN’s monthly meetings are open to the general public: admission is $5.00 with advance registration at Eventbrite — available online until two (2) hours before the meeting begins — or $10.00 at door. Click the button below to register.

Eventbrite - CSN July 2015 - The Primacy of Character in TV Writing

Admission is free of charge for CSN annual members: nevertheless, we request that you register via Eventbrite (above) and select the free “CSN annual member RSVP” option so that we have a reliable headcount for planning. Click here to purchase a CSN annual membership.



CSN member-only workshop – Saturday, July 18, 2015

Neal Howard & Ian Streicher
About“: The Heart Of Effective Script Writing

CSN’s series of annual member-only workshops continues on Saturday, July 18; following their CSN July meeting presentation six day earlier, Neal Howard & Ian Streicher will jointly present a workshop focusing on a fundamental aspect of script writing.

When someone asks you what your script is about, the appropriate response seems to be to provide a pitch, a log line, or a synopsis … but it’s not — not when you’re in the process of writing the script. When you’re writing, “the About” is the intellectual and emotional heart of your script, its point of view and its truth. Without it, without a firm grasp of it, your script cannot hope to succeed.

“The About” is the single most fundamental and indispensable facet of effective scriptwriting for film or television. Structure, plot, story, settings, characters, dialogue, actions, conflict, beginnings, climaxes, endings … none of them matter unless they are consistently informed by “the About.” All of those elements, as important as they are, only exist to serve “the About“.

“The About” is a script’s creative wellspring and compass, effectively informing each and every step of the writing process. It is the most vital tool a writer has for making and evaluating their creative choices. “The About” provides a superlative, efficient and more focused means to both plan and execute a script.

Neal & Ian will speak to the critical importance of “the About“, which they have recently developed as a course providing the most essential and practical guidance for crafting a script for success.

As part of “The About” CSN workshop, Neal and Ian will give attending members the opportunity to have the opening pages of one of their scripts reviewed to address potential problems or specific issues the writer may be contending with. There will also be as an extensive Q&A period in the workshop as time allows.

This CSN member-only workshop will take place on Saturday, July 18 from 10:30am until 12 noon at the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC), 4626 N. Knox Ave. (Room 304), Chicago, IL. Attendance is strictly limited to CSN annual members, each of whom will receive an Eventbrite invitation to attend this workshop.

Map - Irish American Heritage Center

Map of Irish American Heritage Center vicinity

If you are not already a member and would like to attend this workshop, click here to purchase a CSN membership; otherwise, you can obtain a membership on site at the IAHC the morning of the workshop or at the check-in of the July 12th CSN monthly meeting.