GENREALITY

Archive for December 1st, 2011



Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by Candace Havens
Watch More TV

My friend, and fellow writer, Kate Cornell has a great post for you guys today!

There comes a point in every project where I hit a brain shift. My perception of the world changes to mirror my protagonist’s. Euphemisms, cuss words, food orders, music taste; you name it, I am in sync with my main character.
It’s a manageable condition. My prefrontal cortex holds on to the personality I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating while my imagination is unclipped from the leash and allowed run free.
This poses an intriguing conundrum when it comes to writing a television spec script. I need the brain shift moment to slip into the sitcom and sneak onto the set, but how do you sink into the persona of a character they did not create? The same way you always do.
Research.
Hours and hours of meticulous research.
That’s right. You’ve got to watch a lot of TV.
I recently wrote a spec script for The Big Bang Theory. It sounds easy. Nerd life, cultural references, and social ineptitude define my normal life. All I needed to do was browse on ThinkGeek.com and Wiki a few physics articles to master Sheldon and Leonard’s world.
It didn’t work out that way.
A week into the research phase, my life revolved around BBT. Seasons 1-4 played in a steady rotation. I didn’t watch any other TV, fearful that another sitcom might slip in. I was lulled to sleep every night by a chorus of “Bazingas” and “Soft Kitty”. I printed and brass-brad bound every script available on the Internet, noting the changes between drafts and final on-screen edit.
Even my parents started watching the show. Our dinner conversations turned into: “Did you see the one where…”
After plotting my A-story, I thought maybe, just maybe, I might be on to something. Maybe I can take something that isn’t mine, immerse myself in characterization, and create something both unique and familiar.
Watching television with such singular attention isn’t easy.  There is a fine line between work and entertainment.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the 10,000 hour rule, the necessary time required to gain expertise based on a study Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson. I may not have reached the 10,000 hours to accomplish Big Bang expertise, but I’m willing to take it to that level.
I’m watching TV.
For research.

Bio: Kate Cornell is a struggling faux-hemian who lives at home with her parents. Her current project is scraping together the cash to move out to Los Angeles and work as a writer in television. She has worked for Sony Pictures Television, Grapevine Star Entertainment, and the Soundtrack Channel.