Songwriting and storytelling in Nashville

If I didn’t have a few guilty pleasures, I’d never take a break from my work, so excuse me for being a fangirl, but I am shamelessly enjoying ABC’s Nashville “On the Record” videos, the web-exclusive content developed to help promote the television series. I like the show a lot, but I’m utterly fascinated by the brief videos showing how the songwriters work and the process of selecting individual songs to suit the plots and the specific characters who’ll perform them on the show. Have a look. The videos are like the special features and bonus material you get with DVDs, and they introduce the songwriters individually.

ABC's NASHVILLE logoNow that I think about it, the show’s scripts are extremely tight. The ensemble cast is large, and there’s no superfluous dialogue. Scenes are brief if there’s no musical performance involved. The Nashville series scriptwriters are using compression as carefully and thoughtfully as lyricists.

NASHVILLE stillCallie Khouri, who wrote the screenplay that became Thelma & Louise, is the series creator. She wrote the originating script for Nashville and is credited with three additional episodes. The other writers on the show, each with credits for two episodes so far, are Wendy Calhoun, Jason George, David Gould, David Marshall Grant, Todd Ellis Kessler, Meredith Lavender, Liz Tigelaar, and Marcie Ulin. Somehow these folks are managing a seamless narrative with surprising and fairly realistic plot twists. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they’re at work, because I know it can’t be easy.

Sure, the videos make it look slick and fun and effortless. You can be sure that it’s not. I’m really impressed by these people, and particularly by the respect they give each other.

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