Caitlin D. Fryers on Catching the TV Writing Bug, Lego Sets & Trusting the Process

by | Mar 20, 2022

While Caitlin isn’t new to the ProPath team as she’s already taught an incredibly successful pilot class, we realized that we hadn’t given you all the chance to get to know her a little better. So, here’s Caitlin in her own words!

How did you discover screenwriting?

I knew writers wrote television even when I was a kid — I was a Sorkin, Goldman and Amy Sherman-Paladino fan especially — and when I was about 15, a dear family friend gave me “Adventures in the Screen Trade” ( by William Goldman). I was already obsessed with The Princess Bride. After reading it, I found one of Goldman’s scripts online and started to write a feature mimicking his style. I don’t know where that script is now, but that was it; I had the bug. Then I happened to select an English course in University that was taught by the same Professor who also taught Screenwriting. He had a whole section of the English lit course that treated screenplays as literature; it was great! The next term, I enrolled in the introductory Screenwriting class. I believe I was the only woman out of twelve or something.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the fun but terrifying but exhilarating (but did I mention terrifying?) world of development right now. I have my own work — two original pilots, one of which is much lighter than my previous work, with a magical element that suggests there is a higher power at work in the hero’s life. It’s inspired by the types of shows I was watching during the lockdowns and pandemic struggle. I’ll be taking that out soon, I hope. I’m balancing the time with several adaptations of IP. I’m a bookworm anyway, so it’s a delight when I discover a novel or somebody brings me a work that I then love, and I get to imagine it for television.

Do you have a celebration ritual for when you finish/sell a script? What is it?

After I finish a script… the fun answer is that sometimes I buy myself a tiny bottle of champagne just for me and a new Lego set. Less fun is that I send the script to some trusted readers and then wait in a state of intense anxiety for a reaction. Honestly, the nerves as you wait for readers’ feedback never goes away. After selling or optioning something, I have been known to take myself to a bookstore, get a fancy coffee and buy myself a new read. Or three. And I get to tell my parents the news, that’s always a joy. But I need to get better at celebrating the wins, frankly. I’m often immediately focused on the work to be done.

What do you love about writing TV/What’s your favorite kind of project to work on?

When it comes to writing for tv, I really love the balance between collaboration and isolation — working with other writers to break a season and episodes, and then the solo work of writing the script you’re assigned, which then goes to the group for help again. You never feel alone in the process, or at least I’ve been fortunate enough to have rooms that make me feel I’m not alone. Plus, writing for Wynonna Earp spoiled me in terms of the fans. It never gets old when you see Twitter blow up with delighted reactions.

My favourite kind of project… I love horror and sci-fi. I love using the blank spots in history where we don’t know exactly what happened to create a story that asks, “What if?”. But I also grew up watching shows like Poirot and Diagnosis Murder and CSI, so I do love me a good procedural if the characters are fun. Ultimately I’m always looking for stories I can make my own that I connect with personally.

What do you wish you’d known about working in a writers room when you first got started?

The first week will be exhausting, so prepare your fridge and your family accordingly.
There are going to be a lot of notes from a lot of people, but if you have a good room (which I have been fortunate enough to have), then they will have your back.
And finally: trust the process. It feels messy and daunting when you start out; I mean both starting as a new writer and as a more experienced writer starting on a new episode. But there’s no rushing the process, and there’s no skipping the messy bit, so get used to the feeling of chaos and trust that if you do the work, the story will come.

Do you have a go-to screenwriting snack or drink?

This is my favourite question. While I’m working on a script at home: popcorn and lots of tea. While I’m in a room: coffee and the rice crispy squares from Made Good. And Chicago Mix Popcorn for special days (sorry, Carbone!)

What makes you excited to crack your computer and get writing?

Fun answer: when I’ve finished a strong outline and I finally get to start writing the actual script. Less fun but still honest answer: deadlines.

What’s your best advice for someone just setting out on their screenwriting journey?

There are many things in this business that you cannot control. You cannot control if someone likes the subject you wrote about, or if the person reading your script had a bad day, or the trends in the market. You can control your writing. So keep writing and keep seeking new ways to improve your craft. You can also control your attitude, so be kind and do your best to be someone people want to be around, someone they want to have in their life.

Ready to start or continue your TV writing journey? Jump on into a workship with Caitlin! Whether you’ve never written TV before or are on your umpteenth pilot, Caitlin can help guide you to write your best script yet!

ProPath Screenwriting