By Sarah Chaisson-Warner
Lauriel Marger has seen much success in her writing career. A television writer now living in Los Angeles, Lauriel began her writing career with a treatment for a music video. Since then, she has written an award-winning TV pilot, written for shows on FOX and the CW, and was most recently an honoree at the WGA’s 2022 TV Writers Access Project.
Her first TV pilot, Peaches, was a dark comedy centered on two teen girls who become roommates at an all-girls psych ward. “It bothered me that these gritty, sexy, fast-paced shows and films I loved were about older dudes…I wanted to do something for and about girls that felt like Snatch,” she said.
“I’m fascinated by the teen starlet to rehab pipeline. How society eats young women it perceives to ‘have it all’ and spits them back out. And in my experience, being a teenage girl was violent, absurd, and chaotic. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change a thing, so I wanted to explore all of that in a way that felt triumphant and real.”
Lauriel entered Peaches in Shore Scripts’ annual TV pilot competition in 2016. “I was searching on the web for competitions that I qualified for as a new writer. I love the fact that Shore Scripts is about emerging talent and that the prize is getting your work seen by people who can actually do something with it.”
Since winning the Shore Scripts competition, Lauriel has gained representation with our Industry Roster company Sugar23 and joined the writing team on several television shows, including Prodigal Son starring Tom Payne and Lou Diamond Phillips on FOX. “I had a meeting with the production company a year earlier, but I was developing at the time, so my manager followed up the next staffing season to make sure they knew I was available,” she said.
The executive she met with advocated for her, and the showrunners’ assistant read her sample and pushed for her too.
“In my experience, getting your first gig in a writers’ room takes a village. And assistants! People don’t realize how many scripts assistants read, and it’s really their boost that gets you out of the stack and on a showrunner’s radar.”
As she looks toward her next projects, Lauriel has a few nuggets of advice for new writers looking to emulate her career’s trajectory.
- Never. Stop. Learning.
Your education as a screenwriter can and should be ongoing. “Never stop reading scripts, watching TV and movies, getting advice from your higher ups, and notes from respected peers— even take refresher classes,” she advises. “There’s always more to learn, or deepen, or expand on. It’s the frustrating part of what we do, because it would be nice to sit down at the blank page and think ‘I got this! I know everything!’ but it’s also the joy of it. Writing keeps you on your toes. If you’re bored or too comfortable, something’s up.”
- Get Comfortable with Self-Promotion
Lauriel also suggests writers become more comfortable talking about themselves and what they’re working on. “Meetings happen because people like what’s on the page and want to know if they’ll like working with you too. It may feel weird to be open about your life and background with an exec who is a total stranger, but using the time to show how your voice on the page reflects who you are as a person (and that you have more stories to tell) will help drive those meetings home.”
- Always Write Forward
She advises writers to keep looking forward, and always have something in the works. “Writers write – so you should always have something you’re (at least!) noodling on, and a soundbyte to share about it. You never know, that second or third logline you throw out could be the one they get excited about and want to develop. This is a business of momentum – so anything you can do to keep your momentum going is helpful.”
- Be In It for the Long-Haul
Patience is also critical in this industry. “I went to a great panel hosted by the WGA, and one of the writers said, ‘a project is like a marriage.’ You’re in it for better or for worse and choosing what projects to focus on is a massive commitment. The writing process can take years, so can development. You may fall out of love with it after the fourth rewrite, or the tenth, but what’s important is that there is something there you love, deeply, and are committed to following through on. That ends up being your North Star.”
- Seek Out the Experience
Honing your craft is paramount but being great on the page doesn’t mean you know how to run a show. “Writing and being a writer/producer are different skillsets. And being a showrunner is like wearing five hats at a time, and only one of those hats has to do with being a great writer,” she says. “So much of it is management, and problem solving, and being a great boss. It’s something that is extraordinary to watch and to learn from up close. Yet, we are taking that mentorship and experience away from writers coming up the ranks in the age of streaming, now that scripts are written way before shooting.”
To find out more about the mentorships we offer, go to our contest pages. To learn more about Lauriel and her work, visit her IMDb profile here.
After 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is also currently writing sci-fi and a family Christmas script. Her script, Serafina Stavinovna, was placed in “The Next 100” in the 2021 Nicholl Fellowship Competition.
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