A lot of writers have tips for how to keep a plot moving when it seems like you’ve hit a wall, like making a phone ring or having a previously unmentioned character barge in and drop a shocking reveal, but Tim Minear—the showrunner for Fox’s 9-1-1—has a very interesting strategy of his own. Speaking with The Wrap, he shared this fabulous bit of writing knowledge: “If it feels like we’ve gone too long without an emergency, it’s time for an emergency. That’s pretty much how it works.”
Now, it might seem like that’s very specific to the show 9-1-1, but you can apply it to plenty of other things in life… like general anxiety! If it seems like you haven’t had an emergency in a while, better stay on your toes like Peter Krause and Angela Bassett in the hit Fox TV show 9-1-1. Anyway, the reason that hot tip came up was because The Wrap asked Minear what it’s like writing a show about constant, unexpected disasters, and he revealed that there’s actually a reliable formula for writing an episode of 9-1-1.
Essentially, Minear says that there are “maybe four or five” 9-1-1 calls per episode, each one separated by a scene that highlights the 9-1-1 call center, some kind of “WTF?” sequence with “body horror” or a humorous moment, then “something that feels moving and touching” and “something that’s life and death.” Whip that all together and you should have an episode of 9-1-1, but if you still feel like you’re missing that extra bit of spice, you already know what to do: “It’s time for an emergency.”
Don’t tell anybody, but it turns out that writing is super easy.