What The Good Place Writers Know About Systemized Content

Posted on 28 August, 2019 in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

bad place

I’ve been really in my feelings about The Good Place lately. I mean more so than usual, which is already a lot.

Its final season is about to start, and they wiped their Instagram profile of all their old posts as part of the marketing and replaced it with a puzzle grid that made me cry.

(Because of what it said, not because puzzle grids upset me or anything.)

I mean, “Everything is fin?!”

Just rip my heart out, why doncha, Mike Schur? 😂

I know Mike Schur isn’t actually running the show’s Instagram account.

But I need someone to blame for my sadness, AND a way to segue into the real topic of this post, and that did both. 💁🏻‍♀️

Now, speaking of Mike Schur…

(See how that worked?)

The Good Place doesn’t just have a great Instagram account, it also has a great podcast (and a great YouTube channel, Twitter account…but their overall digital marketing is a conversation for another day).

So one of the things I’ve done to deal with all my TGP angst is to re-listen to all the podcast episodes for a second (or third) time.

The one I listened to today had a gem too good not to share with you…

(No spoilers, but you should watch the show anyway if you haven’t yet.)

An Important Poster in The Good Place’s Writer’s Room

That gem was Mike talking about a sign that hangs in the writer’s room to lay out the rules of the show’s scripts.

They are:

  • Is it funny?
  • Are the characters being developed?
  • Does the episode ask and answer a question about behavior?
  • Is it compelling?
  • Is it consistent with the long game?
  • Are we making use of this premise?

I love these guidelines for so many reasons…

First of all, I loved learning about the systems, guidelines, and processes of my favorite TV show (because yes, everything has systems!).

But more importantly, I love that the poster is an example of how guidelines and checklists can help you balance strategic content with fun content, which you know is my jam. 😍

Here’s what I mean:

What that Poster Can Teach You About Content Systems & Guidelines

One of the questions I get a lot is how to create content that’s both fun and strategic. That’s both in a strong brand voice as well as SEO-friendly.

People think it all needs to be separate. That strategic content means “how to,” and “fun” means “personal.”

But NONE of that HAS to be true.

The best content does both at the same time, and it doesn’t happen by accident. It happens through strategy. Strategies for being fun.

(Don’t think strategies and systems can be fun? I dare you debate 2 of Michael Schur’s best characters, Leslie Knope and Amy Santiago, on that topic.)

The Good Place’s writer’s room checklist essentially does two things: makes sure the script both is funny and moves the script forward.

The questions “is it funny?” and “are we making use of this premise?” cover the fun bases, making sure they hit the right joke density and fully take advantage of the wacky scenario the show’s gone all in on.

But the rest of the questions make sure that funniness balances out with something more emotional beyond the jokes to keep people tuning in every week.

That the characters are being developed, that there’s a real problem or question being addressed, and that that question is consistent with the show’s overall theme of addressing morality through humor.

You can’t do something as deep as “addressing morality through humor” without intricate systems. 🤓

The podcast episode really helps prove my theory that strategic systems are behind everything good in the world.

So if you’re not on board with them yet, you’re holding yourself back.

Want to Peep My Own Content System for Inspiration?

That’s why I’m so open about my own content creation process – sure, I may enjoy writing. I may have grown up doing it. But that’s NOT why the content published for my business is good.

Most of the ideas I come up with are crap. But because pro writing is as much about systems as creativity, my process ensures you only see the good stuff that’ll help my business.

Developing your own content process is SO important to being able to put out STRATEGIC content as much as you want/need to.

Next week’s post will talk more about that.