24 November 2007


I'm starting to feel as though I only blog to impress myself with my own writing or to offer my Amazon Wish List around the gift-giving seasons. I really do have a lot of poignant posts started but never finished because I get bored with them. I suppose I'm only interested in ego masturbation or encouraging others to buy me things (which is like an ego hand-job really).

Anyway, here it is.

As always, I have stuff separated into different categories but the most important stuff is on the default list. That stuff, for those that don't like to click on links, includes:

  • And by Jonah Matranga
  • Malena Uncut Special Edition 2-Disc [Import]
  • adidas Sambas (black/white -- size 12)
  • The Fountain
  • The Complete Poems by Guido Cavalcanti (trans. by Mark Cirigliano -- or any translation with the original Italian)
  • D&G heavy tweed sports jacket

I know the D&G jacket is a little pricey, but it's worth it; I'll look really good wearing it.

Also: Don't think I forgot about you, Gaarface. I owe you a gift and have been thinking about it. But what do you get the man whose DVD collection includes 50% more movies than I've even heard of?

01 November 2007

script advice from an outsider.

There are times when you have to look at your story and make some hard decisions. You get stuck in a pattern, things start to get stale or you just find yourself writing in a direction for which you're not sure you want to see the result. It's time for an evaluation. It's time to take a long, hard look at your characters, your settings and your plot and see what can be cut in order to add newer and better things. In the end, you may have to write a person off the show.

I know it's hard. You have a lot invested in these characters and to just write them off so quickly is sometimes easier said than done. And things might turn around, right?

The first thing to do is to look at the situations your characters are in and make sure that they are, in fact, doomed. "Doomed," of course, is an abstract concept and depends on the script you're writing. Is your character caught in a cycle that you are far too comfortable writing her into? Is she facing insurmountable odds unnecessarily (and by this I mean the bad kind of insurmountable, the true, tragic kind of insurmountable)? Is your audience rolling its collective eyes at the stale storyline, impossible survival or repeated presence of something toxic and unpopular? If your answer is yes to any of these, it's time to start the process of creating the exit of this unfortunate aspect.

The actual exit might be the easiest part. You want to do it well, with style and grace and keeping in tune with the rest of the script. If the character is usually tranquil and understanding, writing a scene with yelling and screaming is not plausible, no matter how dramatic or entertaining you feel the writing is. Your audience will appreciate a tone that matches the rest of the show (it's why they stay tuned in, right?). You have to make it fit and give him a fitting end. Dropping him off a cliff or shooting him in the face in order to get rid of him is the stuff of soap operas. Your character (hopefully) is not in a soap opera (if your character is, see "Deaths from Which Your Character can be Resurrected and/or The Body Cannot be Identified"). Whether your show is a half-hour comedy or an hour-long drama on the CW, you have a duty to your character to follow the serial you've been working so hard on thus far.

After writing the character off the show you have to resist the temptation of bringing him back into the story. There will be many times over your (hopefully) long series run that you may run into issues of temporary boredom or just a loss of story and you'll get the feeling to bring this person back. Don't fall into that trap. You run the risk that you (and your character) will only fall back into that cycle or will diminish that good progress you made with your writing. Your audience will see this as a step back for your show and you may lose some of your faithful. Your audience is important no matter how good a storyline you have for this character.

So you may think to yourself, "Nick, my character has really made it far enough that I can avoid the pitfalls the old character made in his earlier episodes." That may be true. Try guest appearances at first. Sparse guest appearances. Work that character back in slowly. It's more natural than reintroducing this character and suddenly giving him a major role.

What you're trying to avoid is having your character upstage your series by making it a study of ridiculous recurring characters (think Urkel) or constantly resorting to unoriginal ideas (like the incessant Ben or Noel cliffhangers). If you really want for this character to return, evaluate your script again. The reintroduction has to not be completely ridiculous, unfounded or inherently damaging to your main character. She is the most important part of the show after all.

The safest bet is to leave dead characters dead. Your audience will respect you for it and your living characters can grow and continue on a natural progression. If you're feeling extra creative, maybe throw him in the background as a wink to your historical audience. He who portrays your character might be frustrated with his below-minor role status. But these days he'll probably get a spin-off anyway.