How to Make Your Audience Sit Forward in Storytelling


This Week’s Episode:

My grandfather Joe is serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He isn’t married... yet. But he is head over heels for someone who’s there waiting for him in Seattle every single time his ship comes into port.

That someone is my grandmother Beverly, who’s just as in love with him too. She moves from Hollywood to the Pacific Northwest to be there as he comes back from his deployments. Whenever he’s away, they write letters back and forth to each other constantly.

Over 100 letters (and a marriage and a family) later, I inherit these letters and start reading them. Going through them, I discover incredible accounts of events happening in the war and feelings between my grandparents. I’m getting to know them better than when they were still alive.

As I begin reading this one letter from my grandfather, I’m captivated by the details of being aboard the ship, his concern for the war, and his love for Beverly. However, there’s something unusual about this letter. Someone has, quite literally, cut out a paragraph! This paper has a hole in it.

Sure, censorship during wartime happens, but my mind can’t help but race with curiosity. Why was it cut? What was in that missing paragraph? And did he ever tell my grandmother what it was?

You know you have good writing when you want to know what’s missing, and you start imagining things and filling in the blanks for yourself. And that’s why I’m so excited for this week’s special guest! Ross Brown is an award-winning writer, producer, and professor. In this episode, he talks about comedic writing, shares stories from his sitcom writing days (including the writing process), and answers questions such as:

How can you turn a dark situation into a comedic writing opportunity? What two things make a story a story, regardless of its format? And where can unpredictability cross the line and cause a negative reaction in your audience?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • Why the story still matters most, even in comedic writing
  • What it takes to create good comedic stories without forcing the funny
  • Why unpredictability makes for better comedy and stories

Who is Ross?

Ross Brown has created and produced comedies for The WB, CBS, and ABC. After beginning his career on The Cosby Show, he went on to work on the feature film National Lampoon’s Vacation as an assistant director. Next, he served as a tenured Assistant Professor of TV Writing & Production at Chapman University. Then from 2016 until June 2022, he was the founding director of the MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media at Santa Barbara’s Antioch University.

In addition to his television and film work, Ross has had his short plays performed in theaters in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Minnesota, as well as readings of his full-length plays staged at The Pasadena Playhouse in California and The Barter Theater in Virginia. He’s also authored the book Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet which is an all-in-one guide to creating short-form TV series online.

Ready to be unforgettable? Good.


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