Invent

2012 April


You can’t have it both ways

There’s an interview with David Simon on the New York Times website. I have the utmost respect for the guy, but this jumped out at me like a hoodlum in the low-rises:

The number of people blogging television online — it’s ridiculous. They don’t know what we’re building. And by the way, that’s true for the people who say we’re great. They don’t know. It doesn’t matter whether they love it or they hate it. It doesn’t mean anything until there’s a beginning, middle and an end. If you want television to be a serious storytelling medium, you’re up against a lot of human dynamic that is arrayed against you. Not the least of which are people who arrived to “The Wire” late, planted their feet, and want to explain to everybody why it’s so cool. Glad to hear it. But you weren’t paying attention. You got led there at the end and generally speaking, you’re asserting for the wrong things.

Am I crazy or is this a huge contradiction? People who critique a show before the end are ridiculous, but people who only watch it after the end aren’t paying attention. I’m so confused. When should I watch a series? From the beginning, middle or end? On cable, blu-ray™ disc, or DVR? When is it OK to talk about it?

Some guidelines might help. I just want to be in strict compliance here.

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Script Frenzy

It’s that time of year again. The blossom hangs from the trees, sunlight dapples across the sidewalk (AKA pavement) and a man’s fancy turns to thoughts of rutting. It’s also Script Frenzy time, when thousands of amateurs bash out a half-baked script in a single month. Sounds bad, right? Not at all.

Script Frenzy is actually really great for getting stuff done. It solves two problems a lot of writers have – lack of impetus and self-editing. The first one can mean you never start anything and the second can mean you never finish it. Having a deadline of thirty one days gives you something concrete to aim for. Instead of measuring your work in such subjective terms as ‘is this the best I can do?’, you just have to count the pages as the days progress. Write two pages per day for a week, you’ve got fifteen pages. Bingo– you’re a writer. And once you get started with a little routine over the course of the month, you tend to not want to stop.

What you write may be gibberish, but you know what? I doubt it. If it’s flowing (because of the rapid deadline), you tend to find quick solutions to problems, skip over character names that might hold you up for hours. You get in the zone and it comes to you. You also don’t edit and rehash the same opening page over and over again ad infinitum. This is crucial – you should only edit something (I’m talking about proper, qualitative editing, not typos and vocab) when you’ve finished it. Then you can assess it as a whole.

Once the pressure to make something perfect is off, you have the freedom to create. It’s a lesson that has helped me in more than just my writing, so I’m a big fan.

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