The Write Process
Writing is a tightrope walk from where the idea originates to the moment a project emerges in the world. In The Write Process, Charles Jensen, director of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, asks writers who’ve walked the tightrope to talk about their process.
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Multiple Emmy nominee Melissa Rosenberg is Series Creator and Showrunner of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. The show garnered tremendous response and critical acclaim, including winning the prestigious Peabody Award for its genre-bending approach. As one of Hollywood’s most versatile, sought-after storytellers, Rosenberg is currently in an overall deal with Warner Bros. TV to develop new projects. Her company, Tall Girls Productions, focuses on developing and producing film and TV series with an emphasis on interesting, complex roles for women in front of and behind the camera. On the film side, Rosenberg’s credits include all five screenplays for the vampire romance phenomenon, The Twilight Saga, which grossed more than $3 billion worldwide. She also wrote the hit dance film Step Up, which launched a multi-film franchise. Additional television credits in Rosenberg’s diverse range include four seasons as both head writer and Executive Producer of the Showtime original series Dexter, which earned multiple nominations and awards, including the Peabody Award.
Tod Goldberg is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including The Low Desert, Gangsterland, a finalist for the Hammett Prize, Gangster Nation, The House of Secrets, which he co-authored with Brad Meltzer, and Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the co-host of the wildly popular podcast Literary Disco, named a top literary podcast by the Washington Post. He is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside where he founded and directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts.
With gimlet-eyed cool and razor-sharp wit, the spare, stylish stories in The Low Desert assemble a world of gangsters and con men, of do-gooders breaking bad and those caught in the crossfire. The uncle of an FBI agent spends his life as sheriff in different cities, living too close to the violent acts of men; a cocktail waitress moves through several desert towns trying to escape the unexplainable loss of an adopted daughter; a drug dealer with a penchant for karaoke meets a talkative lawyer and a silent clown in a Palm Springs bar. Raymond Carver meets Elmore Leonard in this extraordinary collection of contemporary crime writing set in the critically acclaimed Gangsterland universe, a series called “gloriously original” by The New York Times Book Review.
Elle Johnson is a TV writer. Her credits include Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Ghost Whisperer, and The Fosters. One of Elle’s career highlights came on The Glades where she wrote and produced an episode set in the world of NASCAR that featured nine actual racecars, four champion drivers, and one monkey. She was co-showrunner on Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker which won an NAACP Image award for best limited series. Most recently she was an Executive Producer on the Amazon original series Bosch, based on the Michael Connelly detective novels. Originally from Hollis, Queens Elle graduated from Harvard College, studied writing on a Rotary Scholarship at the University of East Anglia in England, and has taken numerous classes at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She was a finalist for UCLA’s 2015 Allegra Johnson Prize in Memoir Writing. The Officer’s Daughter is her first book.
When Elle Johnson was 16 years old, her 16 year-old cousin Karen had her face blown off at point blank range in a robbery at a Burger King in the Bronx. Elle comes from a family of black law enforcement officers. Her uncle, Karen’s dad, was a homicide detective. Her father was a parole officer. The aftermath of Karen’s murder, the cross-country manhunt spearheaded by the NYPD and the FBI to find the killers, and the subsequent trials and media circus, marked the defining end of Elle’s childhood innocence.
Thirty years later, living in Los Angeles, writing for various television shows (including several police procedurals), Elle receives an email from Karen’s brother notifying her that one of the killers is up for parole. Asked to write a letter encouraging the parole board not to set him free Elle realizes that before she can write a letter condemning a man she’s never met, she must also investigate the hard truths of her own past: family who never really spoke of the devastating effect the murder of her young cousin had on any of them, with secrets of their own, and a complicated father she never truly understood. The Officer’s Daughter is the story of a family, a terrible tragedy, and the power–and ultimately the freedom–of forgiveness.
Julie Wong spent more than a decade writing speeches and developing press conferences while serving as Deputy Mayor to Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn and leading communications for Senator Barbara Boxer and then-L.A. City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, among others. She also served in multiple executive roles for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts where she was involved with major initiatives including the opening of Shanghai Disneyland and the announcement of Star Wars lands coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Along the way, she realized she had her own stories to tell, too. Julie is currently a Co-Producer on Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy. She participated in the CAPE New Writers Fellowship and the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, and holds a degree in government from Claremont McKenna College and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University.Grey’s Anatomy, Episode 1704: You’ll Never Walk Alone
While hospitalized with Covid, Meredith dreams of seeing her friend George O’Malley, who died during their medical residency. Meanwhile, Owen’s misdiagnosis of a patient challenges more than he imagined, an asymptomatic Koracick begins to go stir-crazy at home, and Maggie gets a not-so-subtle glimpse into Winston’s background.
Born on and raised outside an Army base in Seoul, South Korea, Christina Strain moved to the US at 18 to attended Louisiana State University, where she received a BFA in Graphic Design. After, she went on to color comics for Marvel comics for 10 years, and during her last few years at Marvel, she started writing her own webcomics. Shortly after attending several UCLA extension classes (for screenwriting) Christina retired from coloring comics to pursue her masters degree in screenwriting at The American Film Institute. Since, she’s write and produce on TV shows like THE MAGICIANS and SHADOW AND BONE and written the Netflix film FINDING ‘OHANA.
“Finding ‘Ohana” begins with two New York kids, tomboy skateboarder Pili (Pee-Lee) and her dopey big brother Ioane (EE-oh-AHN-nay), traveling with their mom Leilani (Kelly Hu) to visit their grandfather Kimo (Branscombe Richmond) in Hawaii. When Pili, an avid geocacher back in New York, finds a secret journal promising hidden treasure, she sets out on an adventure that takes her deep into the heart of sacred volcanic caves. She’s joined by her new friend Casper (Owen Vaccaro), a white kid who grew up in Hawaii. Ioane is loathe to chase after her, but the prospect becomes intriguing when he’s joined by crush-worthy local Hana (Lindsay Watson).
Paria Hassouri is a pediatrician, mother of three, and transgender rights activist. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1999 and completed her residency training at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 2002. Her personal essays have been published in multiple sites, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post, and she has presented stories on stage through Expressing Motherhood. A proud Iranian-American, she spent her formative years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She currently resides and practices in Los Angeles, California. Her memoir, Found in Transition: A Mother’s Evolution during her Child’s Gender Change, was released in September 2020.
In Found in Transition, Hassouri is blindsided when her teenager comes out as transgender. As Hassouri navigates through anger, denial, and grief to eventually arrive at acceptance, her journey forces her to reflect on her own experiences of being an Iranian immigrant growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of a handful of brown kids in a near all white school district. She examines how the insecurities she is carrying from her past are leading her to parent with fear rather than love. She also questions her identity as both a mother and a pediatrician, given she had no inkling her child is transgender. She examines why her medical training never prepared her for parenting a trans child. As her daughter transitions from male to female, she discovers her own capacity to evolve, what it really means to parent, and how to use her voice to raise awareness about the large percentage of transgender people who don’t present in childhood in the classical way the media portrays. While this is a story that weaves the journeys of a pediatrician mother and her transgender teenager, it illustrates universal themes of parenting, identity, belonging, self-discovery, growth, and unconditional love. It is the story of a modern American family.
(@pariahassouri) and my instagram(@laparia).
Kira Snyder is an Emmy-, Golden Globe-, and WGA Award-winning writer and Executive Producer on the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale. Her credits include Pacific Rim: Uprising, The 100, Incursion, Eureka, and Moonlight. Formerly a computer game designer, Kira created games for Microsoft, the MIT Press textbook Rules Of Play, and Electronic Arts, including the seminal alternate reality game Majestic.
Wally Rudolph is a multidisciplinary artist and the author of the novels Four Corners and Mighty, Mighty. Born in Canada to Chinese-Jamaican immigrant parents and raised in Texas, he’s traveled and lived throughout North America, but now is more than happy to be living and creating in The City of Angels.
Aatif Rashid is the author of the literary comedy Portrait of Sebastian Khan, which explores the complicated romantic life of a Muslim American art history student. His writing has appeared in Barrelhouse, Massachusetts Review, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Kenyon Review blog.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cindy Lin is a former journalist with degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She’s written and produced many multimedia news features for children, one of which received a Peabody Award. She is the author of The Twelve and its sequel, Treasures of the Twelve.
Michael Werwie is the screenwriter of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship-winning Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. He is currently developing an original series for television and has written projects for Warner Bros., Legendary, Fox, and Amazon. Michael is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a graduate of USC.
Novelist Natashia Deón is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Grace. A practicing criminal law attorney, law professor, creative writing instructor, and literary organizer, she is the founder of REDEEMED, a nonprofit that pairs professional writers with those who have been convicted of crimes.
TV writer and novelist Hollie Overton has worked on Tell Me a Story, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Cold Case, and The Client List. She is the author of the novels Baby Doll, The Walls, and The Runaway. Originally from Texas, she lives in Los Angeles.
Stuart Beattie is a filmmaker and screenwriter of Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral, 30 Days of Night, among other successful films. His latest film is Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
Henry Lien teaches law and creative writing at UCLA Extension. A private art dealer, he is the author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series, which received New York Times acclaim and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.
Barbara Stepansky is a Nicholl Fellow and WGA Award winner. Her work was short listed for the Academy Awards, garnered the DGA Diversity Award and the Student Emmy, and was featured on the Black List. She wrote the award-winning TV movie Flint.
Sheryl Recinos is a family medicine physician who works with Los Angeles organizations to help youth transitioning off the street to enroll in college. Hindsight is her memoir about her experience of teen homelessness in Hollywood.
April Shih is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. She attended film school at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and has written for You’re the Worst, Mrs. America, and Undone.
Monica Holloway is the author of the memoir Driving with Dead People. She has contributed to the anthology Mommy Wars, from which her essay “Red Boots and Cole Haans” was described by Newsday as “brilliant, grimly hilarious.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.
Owen Husney has been a top 10 recording musician, concert promoter, nightclub owner, marketer who toured with the Rolling Stones. As an artist manager, Owen discovered Prince Rogers Nelson and signed him to Warner Bros Records. Famous People Who’ve Met Me is his memoir.
Shauna Barbosa’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, PBS Newshour, and others, and she was a 2018 Disquiet International Luso-American fellow. Cape Verdean Blues is her first book.
Colette Sartor won the 2018 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for her collection Once Removed and Other Stories. Her writing has appeared in Carve Magazine, Slice Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program as well as privately and is an executive director of the CineStory Foundation, a mentoring organization for emerging TV writers and screenwriters.
Zimran Jacob has worked as a life coach, financial manager, and in film and television production. He served as the showrunner’s assistant on the Netflix series The Punisher.
Host Charlie Jensen explains how The Write Process will reveal the magic and mystery of how one writer takes one work from concept to completion.
A sneak peak into Season One.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Zac Hug wrote scripts for Drop Dead Diva and Shadowhunters and has written, directed, and starred in episodes of the webseries These People. He also writes Christmas movies for the Hallmark Channel.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Jennifer Caloyeras is the author of the short fiction collection Unruly Creatures and two young adult novels, Strays and Urban Falcon.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Mark Sarvas is the author of the novel Harry, Revised, a member of the National Book Critics Circle and PEN America.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumna Elissa Matsueda is the screenwriter of Spare Parts and Dog Days, and co-writer of The Miracle Season.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumna Liska Jacobs Liska Jacobs holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Literary Hub.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumna Greta Heinemann was a CBS Writers Mentoring Program Fellow as well as a Humanitas New Voices Awards winner. She won the 2018 Final Draft Big Break Grand Prize award.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumna Dorothy Blyskal worked as a production assistant before landing the job of adapting the book The 15:17 to Paris for filming by Clint Eastwood.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Miguel Murphy is the author of the poetry collections A Book Called Rats and Detainee. He teaches at Santa Monica College and lives in Los Angeles.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumna Mae Respicio is a past recipient of a PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship and a David Henry Hwang Writers Institute scholarship for playwriting.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Laurel Ollstein writes plays, essays, memoirs, screenplays and television scripts; directs plays; and serves as an adjunct professor of writing for several universities.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program alumnus Moisès Zamora is a Mexican-American award-winning writer and filmmaker and has written for the Emmy-winning dramas American Crime and Star.
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor and alumna Lilliam Rivera has been featured on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York magazine, MTV.com, and Teen Vogue, among others.