Showrunner Damon Lindelof joined me for episode 296 to talk through the process of writing The Leftovers. Here’s how he described breaking an episode:
For the “blue-sky phase,” once we land on something that we like, you just write a sentence. Like, “Baby doll made in Tijuana.” And the last one is “Kevin throws baby out window.” It’s literally just those sentences.
After two days, you look and you have about 20 of those sentences up on the board. Then you’re ready to go into the next phase, which I think is what I would call the story-breaking phase, where you just go scene-by-scene and you start to pitch specific dialogue, character dynamics, etc.
Writing for Vulture, Boris Kachka takes an in-depth look at how the final episode was written, shot and edited. It’s a great look at the process from blank whiteboard to final cut. Highly recommended for anyone interested in making television.