Get some insight into how New Girl storylines and dialogue get decided!
Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com spent 5 hours in the writers meeting for TinFinity and heard some gold jokes that didn’t make it to the cut, plus got some advice for writing comedy.
“I’m more of a visual and smells learner” – is a joke Jess would say while being taught how to throw a football – it didn’t make it to the script.
They also need to make ‘Cat Decisions’. "We prefer 10 live cats" Elizabeth Meriwether says to producers.
The New Girl writing team is divided into two rooms. People working on the over-arching story line to make sure this episode progresses the characters for the next episode; and the people writing alternative punch-lines in the other room. These lines are called ‘alts’ and can be thrown at actors during filming so the editors can decide which gag works best.
You often see these at the end of a sitcom episode. There are a few with Max Greenfield as Schmidt saying ‘douchy’ things at the end of ‘The Story of the 50’.
At the top of mind for the writers is always the character’s ‘drive’. This is said to be the essence of story telling. New Girl Executive Producer Dave Finkel explains:
“If the audience doesn’t have a clear idea of who’s going after what, it’s impossible to laugh.
If people are trying to figure stuff out, if it’s unclear, if it’s muddy, they don’t laugh because they're working too hard with the left brain to make sense of it.
Then they can’t enjoy on a more instinctive guttural level what the jokes are.”
When wondering how Winston would tie into the show, they realised he would want to befriend a pro athlete (Jax) since he never made it that far himself. So he sees Jess as getting in the way of this blossoming friendship, and thus is Winston’s ‘drive’.
The writers continue to work over the weekend through to a Monday all-nighter until it turns into a script ready for a table read by the whole cast on Tuesday.
Following from that was a month long shoot, delayed by bad weather. Until the editors choose the best gags to fit together and polished it down to 21 minutes, 35 seconds.
Then rinse and repeat until episode 24 this season.