VJ Boyd has written for Justified and The Player and is the author of the graphic novel Ghost Cop. He is currently producing his pilot The Jury for ABC.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting? I moved out to LA and worked as an assistant on TV shows, showed my work to my bosses, and eventually one of them had an open spot on the second season of a show I was working on and he hired me.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? Always, always, always be writing something. Don’t be content to lean on your last sample – write something new. If you’re a write, you should probably enjoy writing!
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge? Two things: the first short story I had to write in grad school is one of them. One of the hardest things for any beginning writer to do is finish, and it’s very important. I had probably fifty – not exaggerating – partially finished stories, scripts, novels, etc. But actually being forced to FINISH a story – to end it and wrap things up and make sure it holds together – that was so difficult. I threw notebooks against the wall and hit myself in my own head and scribbled down nonsensical notes like the guy in A Beautiful Mind. Eventually I forced the story out of my unconscious and made it work. It wasn’t bad.
The second was the teleplay for the Justified episode “Raw Deal,” in season 5. It wasn’t even that great of an episode, but it was terribly difficult for me to get down on paper, because there were so many non-Justified elements in it, such as a hacker with one leg who steals Raylan’s identity.
In both of these cases, the key was just sticking to it. Looking at it from other points of view, not saying “that’ll never work,” until I actually tried something.