There’s a difference between being a trivia buff — being able to successfully answer game show trivia questions — and being the person responsible for writing those questions.
At “Millionaire,” one of the biggest challenges as a writer was to continually come up with new material. Every person alive has a small cache of compelling facts tucked away in easy-to-access brain cells marked “Hey, Did You Know …” If your job is to actually write the contents of these thoughts down in digestible language for television, you will most likely deplete your trivia supply in about two weeks. Then you will hit a wall. And that wall will hurt. Because you can’t now just dash off questions like “What color is Big Bird?” (That question doesn’t get viewers itching to reveal the answer to co-workers in the break room the next day. Also, let’s face it, that question stinks.) And you can’t write something that has already been written previously for a show that’s been on the air for years, which frustratingly eliminates a lot.
What are, then, the secrets of a successful game show writer?