Showrunners on Writer’s Block, Turning Bad Ideas Into Good Ones at Wrap-Geek Media’s Comic-Con Panel

Top talent from “The Flash,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Colony” also discuss turning bad ideas into good ones

TheWrap and Geek Media Ventures joined forces at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con for a series of panels featuring top writers behind some of Hollywood’s most beloved genre films and TV shows.

The “Inside The Writers Room: The Series” on Saturday night in Hall H, moderated by Sony Pictures TV’s Senior VP of Drama Development and Production Chris Parnell, featured a lively discussion about the creative process, show runner tips and how to turn bad ideas into good ones.

Panelists included Gabrielle Stanton (“Haven”), Michael Narducci (“The Originals”), Gennifer Hutchison (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”), Steve Holland (“The Big Bang Theory”), Ryan Condal (“Colony”), William Harper (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Steve Melching (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Jose Molina (“Agent Carter”) and Mark A. Altman (Agent X, Castle, Femme Fatales).

“It’s really important to keep the room moving,” said Narducci when asked about writer’s block. “And another way of making sure the room is loose is to talk about something else, usually other TV shows and movies.”

His fellow panelists agreed that discussing other content was energizing, and talk turned to what makes a great showrunner as both a leader of writers and a central voice for the production.

“It’s funny, because none of the qualities you need to be a great writer are the same as being a great show runner,” said Hutchison, “like sitting alone in a dark room at a computer.”

“You need to be a manager of people,” said Altman.

“And you must, must, must be decisive,” Narducci added. “You can’t always make the right decision, but you need a decision when any of the other departments come to you — from costumes or transportation, you need to be ready to give direction.”

Switching Back to the writer’s room, Condal expressed anxiety that not enough writers take the time to properly form an idea, instead agonizing over drafts of something half baked.

Hutchison laughed over a now-iconic “Breaking Bad” moment she wrote in which a DEA team in the desert discovers the head of an informant glued to a turtle’s shell. An unlucky agent attempts to remove the head, which detonates a nearby explosive.

“It’s funny what you [think] is a bad idea. When I pitched it, someone said, ‘and then it should explode.’ And we laughed about it for two weeks. But the more you think on it, yes, it should explode,” Hutchison said.

See TheWrap’s complete coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2015.