A former-Mount Maunganui woman's script for an episode of The Handmaid's Tale has come second out of 2500 entries in a prestigious US university scriptwriting contest.

Lynda Brendish's script for the dystopian drama was selected as the runner-up in University of California, Los Angeles Extension 2018 Television Spec Writing Competition.

While she has experience in writing film scripts, this is the first TV script Brendish has written and the first piece of writing she has entered in a competition.

The writer was raised in Mount Maunganui and attended Arataki Primary, Mount Maunganui Intermediate and Mount Maunganui College.


After studying film and journalism, she has worked as a full-time freelance writer in Los Angeles since 2013.

Brendish's script was for a "spec" episode or an episode that is written uncommissioned by the author for an existing TV series.

A spec script is created to demonstrate the writers' ability to write in the tone and format of an established series.

"I think of it a bit like fan fiction, but written in a very specific style and format," she said.

The end goal of a spec episode is to write a script that could be an actual episode of the show, with the hopes of using the writing sample to get hired to write on a TV show.

She said competitions like this could be crucial for fledgling writers as it could help them get exposure in an incredibly competitive industry.

Brendish was inspired by issues women have to access reproductive healthcare. In her episode, the main character Offred is asked to help another handmaid end a pregnancy.

"I thought it was an interesting conflict for the characters, because as handmaids they are there, not by choice, to have babies.


"Their fertility is the whole reason they are allowed to live ... and are not sent to die a horrible death cleaning up toxic waste."

Thanks to her placement in the top three finalists in the competition, she has now been placed with a mentor who is an experienced TV producer and writer.

She does not expect any immediate changes to her career, but hopes it might open some doors and is grateful for the mentoring and positive feedback she has received.

While Los Angeles is an expensive and challenging city to live in, it suits Brendish well.

" ... the city is so big and diverse, it feels like there's a place for almost anyone."

Homesickness is warded off by a good base of LA-based Kiwi friends and care packages from her mum with Whittaker's chocolate, Marmite and Pineapple Lumps inside.

"I miss the Mount like crazy, though, and I wish I could spend more time there," she said.

"It'll always be home to me."

Additional reporting by Samantha Motion