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.
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 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.

Be Sociable, Share!

5 comments to “Watch More TV”

  1. Gloria Oliver
     · December 1st, 2011 at 3:24 pm · Link

    Cool blog post. Kudos to you for being this dedicated. Having done some episode watching to expanding it by writing, I know how it can suck away the time. Nice that you’re getting PAID to do it. 😈

    The kids keep telling me I’ve got to watch BBT but hubby and I haven’t gotten there yet (too much current stuff on! Argh!). Looking forward to watching them when we do.

  2. Candace Havens
     · December 1st, 2011 at 4:03 pm · Link

    Gloria, you are really missing out when it comes to BBT. :)

  3. Suzan Harden
     · December 1st, 2011 at 4:55 pm · Link

    “Our babies will be smart and beautiful.”

    I do the same thing you do, Kate. I think Chuck Lorre is one of those gifted producers who can bring out the best in his writing staff.

    What’s bad is my hubby has hung around me so long that HE’S picking out the spots on BBT where one of the writers deviated from the series bible and it wasn’t caught before the episode was taped. LOL

  4. @jmartinlibrary
     · December 1st, 2011 at 9:53 pm · Link

    Your actual BBT script = WIN

  5. Kate Cornell
     · December 2nd, 2011 at 1:16 am · Link

    Gloria- Part of the reason I chose BBT is that I knew, despite the flood of research, I still enjoyed watching the show and prefer it even when other things are on.
    I’m sure you’d love it!

    Suzan-Agree about Chuck Lorre 100%! This post was about research. My next step was getting feedback. I didn’t realize how awesome it would feel to have people say, “Raj would totally say that.” or “That’s definitely Sheldon.”

    JML- Aw, shucks.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting