Guest Post: Jose Molina’s Writing Process

Jose MolinaI’m honored to host my first guest here on!

Jose Molina, an old college friend, has been a working television writer since the year 2000, when he made his debut on James Cameron’s science fiction drama Dark Angel. Although born and raised a natural Spanish speaker, Jose writes almost exclusively in English. A long time fan of “the genre” — horror, fantasy and sci-fi — Jose specializes in fantastical TV, most notably penning scripts for shows such as Joss Whedon’s FireflyThe Vampire Diaries, Terra Nova and Sleepy Hollow. His work can next be seen on the upcoming ABC series Marvel’s Agent Carter. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and dogs.

We’ve had a lot of fun collaborating to put this post together. At Jose’s request, I’ve disabled the comments so that you can continue the conversation with him on Twitter instead. You can find him at @JoseMolinaTV.

Let me turn it over to Jose now…though I’ve got my red pen in hand in case he says something he shouldn’t. After all, you know the old saying, “What happens at Yale, stays at Yale…” Or something like that.


It was all Chris Negron’s fault. Understandably, but undeniably. It was 25 years since he and Molina had shared a dorm, and Negron had forgotten his pal’s inclination for last minute dramatics. The novelist gave the screenwriter two months to get his ducks in order — 8 weeks to write a few simple words — but Molina waited. Ruminating. “Cogitating,” he might say. “Procrastinating,” his wife might counter.

Negron was persistent. He was patient. When all else failed, Negron resorted to blackmail, recalling that time when an underage Molina REDACTED the REDACTED of an illegal REDACTED, then spent the night in the back of REDACTED. Or the time Negron REDACTED a whiffle bat to cream Jose’s REDACTED and ended up in that poor freshman’s potted plant.

All in all, quite inauspicious. And still here we are. Chris has asked me to try to say something interesting about my writing process. Here goes…

What am I working on?

I’m currently on hiatus in between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but am about to start work on ABC’s new show Marvel’s Agent Carter, the newest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! I’ll be writing a female-centric heroine making her way in 1946 America — a big swing for the fences on network television.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One of the challenges that faces TV writers is maintaining our own voice while writing in a tone and style that is distinctly that of the show you’re writing — not one of your own invention. While trying to stay on target, I always let my personality seep in through a character’s sense of humor or their worldview. I’ve been told by several friends that they can recognize one my episodes before the writing credit appears on screen. Given the restrictions of my medium, I consider that a hell of an accomplishment!

Why do I write what I do?

I try to follow one primary rule when choosing what I’m writing: I write what I want to see. I write whatever I’m NOT currently seeing on television or film. I often find myself thinking of shows and movies I loved growing up and missing that wide-eyed sense of wonder in today’s programming. I try to fill that hole, in large part to satisfy my own desire to enjoy those kinds of stories.

How does your writing process work?

Slowly. Since my original work usually takes a back-burner to the writing I do for work, I tend to let the stories marinate in my head for a while. I start a Word file when I have an idea that I want to pursue, and spend months or years adding ideas to that file: scenes I want to see, character angles I want to illuminate, themes I want to explore, etc. After a while, the story usually demands to be written — once I’ve built the world enough in my head, it’s time for it to exist on paper. I then cull and organize the ideas into a five or six act structure on a dry erase board. (Or a three act structure if it’s a feature screenplay.) I seldom turn this into a strict outline and use the structure on the board sort of like the Beacons of Gondor: I can see the distance place where I need to go, but I’m not sure how I’m going to get there. That allows for a lot of fun discoveries during the scripting period.

Thanks, Jose! Again, I’ve disabled the comments on this post. If you wish to continue the conversation with him on Twitter, please find him at @JoseMolinaTV.

Oh, and Jose promises to tag a few writers to try keep this blog tour going. We’ll add them to this space later. I may have to blackmail him again.