Put a writer in charge
He pointed out how storytelling can fail when a writer doesn’t have the final say. TV directors, unlike movie directors, direct at most a few episodes in a season; they don’t realise how their cool piece of film affects a character’s arc or how something must happen a certain way in this episode to pay off five episodes later. And showrunners (or executive producers) without a writing background don’t understand how stories are set up, structured, pay off or entertain — so they don’t know what has to happen creatively to ensure that the story gets told well.
The writer should be first in and last out
Vital as format, design, imagery, colour and music are, they need to serve the copy if the story and message are to be persuasive. And a writer — the ‘head writer’ if we continue our TV theme — is best placed to understand how the structure and tone of the copy must work to get the message across in a compelling way for the target audience.
The writer may not have the skills to deliver the other creative elements, but they’re best able to tell if those elements are failing or succeeding in serving the words. Carey (with the help of Roger Horberry) put it well in an earlier blog entry: the writer should be first in and last out on every job.