Writing Tips from Sex and the City

Charles Daly
4 min readApr 14, 2021

This is where I call bullshit. CARRIE NEVER READS!

Fresh out of shows to binge, my girlfriend and I are watching Sex and the City all the way through.

It’s my first time watching the whole thing (okay, maybe second) and her chance to brush up on the one or two lines she doesn’t know by heart.

She’s a writer too. So as we watch, we’ve had a running commentary going about the show's writing (way better in seasons 1–4) and how writing is depicted in the show.

We’ve put together a list of writing Dos and Don’ts based on our observations of Carrie Bradshaw’s process and writing style.

Have a theme and stick to it

Every episode revolves around a central question which Carrie explores in her column.

“Are relationships the religion of the 90s?”

“Twenty-something girls: friends… or foe?”

“Can you be friends with an ex?”

“Are men just women with balls?” (Carrie’s words)

All the action in the episode and, we can assume, Carrie’s column for that week focus on that central theme. It’s the perfect premise for an ensemble show where four characters can depict four different ways of looking at the main theme.

Whether you’re writing a tweet or a novel, you really only get to say one thing.

Nocturnal Animals is about what happens when we throw someone away.

Infinite Jest is about what entertainment is doing to us.

Get Out is about the horrors of everyday, middle-class racism.

The success of these stories and of SATC is in that singular focus.

By giving each episode just one thing to say, the show’s creators were able to cover the broad subject of single life in your 30s and lay the groundwork for shows like Girls and Broad City that had other things to say about it. But they didn’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite and say everything in each episode.

The Lesson: If you have lots of things to say, write lots of things. You get one theme per piece of writing.

Carrie Bradshaw writing on her laptop in Sex and the City
Image: HBO

Have a niche and know your reader

Charles Daly

B2B Copywriter. Co-author of Make Peace or Die: a Life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares (my dad’s memoir). https://www.makepeaceordie.com/