Chapter 25 of 30 from Shonda Rhimes

Working in a Writers’ Room


Shonda discusses what she looks for in writers when staffing her shows and how her own writers' rooms are structured.

Topics include: What to Do • How to Prepare • Episode Drafts • Fellow Writers • Culture

Shonda discusses what she looks for in writers when staffing her shows and how her own writers' rooms are structured.

Topics include: What to Do • How to Prepare • Episode Drafts • Fellow Writers • Culture

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television

In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.

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Make Great Television

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.

Watch, listen, and learn as Shonda teaches you how to write, pitch, and create a hit TV show.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Shonda will also respond to select student questions.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Amazing! She is a great instructor. Inspiring.

It was an amazing masterclass. I loved Shonda's clear communication style and learnt a lot about writing for TV. A fantastic experience!

Rhimes' class is so jam packed with valuable information from start to finish. A must for any beginning TV writers.

Love it! Its very useful and fun! Great help!


Donna S.

I loved this lesson. I love how she describes the culture of the writers' room, One room has a lot of activity going on, such a people walking on a treadmill, working on arts and crafts projects and so on and that the culture of the other room is very different. It's more quiet, lots of eating going on, etc. I personally would rather be in the one with the activity and would especially love to be able to walk on a treadmill during the day! I never had a job where someone gave you a head's up about the work culture. After being offered the job and accepting it, I always got the basics, here's your desk, here's the kitchen/break room, etc, but I was never was informed of the culture such as "we all eat lunch together," or whatever. But, I always found out the hard way what it was like for employees to stray away from the established culture.

Derrick W. J.

I really like this course. I'm bingimg the video lessons then I am going to go back thru all the lessons. She makes some really good points.

Michel C.

"What are the emotional stakes? " I honestly think that sums up almost everything in terms of building a series. I say building because we're starting from scratch until we reach the peak

Darrell H.

Excellent information, great insight into what goes on inside of a writers room.

Jen G.

This is the most interesting and enlightening commentary I have heard about what goes on in a writer's room. Thank you loads, this is actually weirdly really helpful!! x

Hector V.

Like any work environment, in the writer's room, one has to melt into the mix, embrace the sole purpose of the project and know when to lead, follow or get out of the way.

Betty M.

The discussion about rhe structure of the writing room and interactions that take place are very important. One key take away.......if you are fortunate to be a member of the group, you not only deserved it but you should act like you belong!!! GREAT CLASS!!!

Ryan L.

As I see it, the golden rule for seeing if your story isn't character-based enough is if you can change people's positions in it, and there's no real effect on how the story plays out. This is the kind of thing I was really hoping for with this class, things that really hit on how the business works and what you should do to get noticed in it. Of course all the advice on the writing itself is great, but this is what really makes the class stand out.

Cristina S.

This lesson was amazing in that I started to drift off about what culture of a writing room could certain tv shows produce. It's both exciting and makes sense that the ideas are cultivated by environment. Seems incredibly important.

Cherise A. W.

I love this lesson. I was at the edge of my seat. I believe I am the writer who holds the marker that stands at the board and give amazing ideas that will support all writers in the room. I love participation, engagement, and a room with amazing ideas and opinions. That's attractive. I love when Shonda said, "When you enter the writers room, you deserve to be there." I love it. You're amazing Thank you, Cherise A Williams


at the board. That is always a great way to go, because it makes you seem energetic and like you're doing something. Two, try to talk when you're in that room. Try to say at least one thing a day. Three, make sure you've read the writer's room notes the night before, and be the person who, when somebody asks, what did we say? Remind everybody what you said. Try to be useful. Try to be helpful. Be kind and be nice. And be the first one there and the last one to leave, always. That's what I think will help you. When I'm looking to hire somebody, I like to find people who not only have a real individual voice in their writing, so I don't want to read a spec script, which is just a script written for somebody else's show, meaning you can write in somebody else's voice. I want to read an original piece of writing. Sometimes it's an article, sometimes it's a play, sometimes it's a novel, sometimes it's a script. But I want it to be original, it has to be original. Not only do I want to read that and find out that you have an original voice, but I want people who aren't afraid of me, which I've found is interesting. People come in afraid to sort of express their opinion. They think they're not supposed to have one. But not only are you supposed to be not afraid to express your opinion, you have to be willing to argue. You have to be willing to fight for your opinion. Because to me, a writer's room where everybody is in agreement all the time is not a writer's room. That's just me listening to the sound of my own voice. And that is boring. And I can't possibly be right all the time. So I always want a room in which everybody has different opinions, everyone's from sort of a different background, everybody has different experiences, different ages, different everything, so that people can bring that to the table, and then argue their points of view and their ideas. That always makes for much better television. I think a writer's room can be a very wonderful place to be, but I also think that there are so many mistakes that writers can make in writer's rooms that I've seen over the years that I think can really be detrimental to their career. And I don't know that everybody really knows it or understands it. And you have a responsibility, every evening, to go home and have come in, having read the writer's room notes from the day before, to have some ideas about what you want to talk about the next day, even if it's not your episode that's being placed on the board to be discussed. If it is your episode, you cannot show up in the writer's room the next day with no new ideas or work. You really have to go home and come up with a bunch of new pitches, come up with a bunch of new ideas, having forwarded your story, have things to put on the board to fill it up that can be then discussed or changed or challenged, but you have to have done so...