Monday, September 27, 2004

Television writing -- a special kind of breed

I’m still on that ALIAS habit. I can’t really peel myself away -- the more I begin to understand why, the more I see it has to do with the writing.

In writer’s parlance, JJ Abrams and Co. open up plenty of ‘doors’ week by week on the show. They leave plenty of hanging plot points and trip you up with other spots along the way to confound you. And the trick with Alias seems to be in its fast sharp editing. The ability to lace the various items together, then to create a flow from show to show. It’s funny -- I sort of have to wean myself off of it -- getting to the point where I say I’m not worthy. Nor is Alias the kind of show where I can simply sit there and watch, not analysing it for shot sequencing, character development, or with a very keen eye on the performances.

There seems to be special behaviour associated with TV writing. It’s high-paced, action packed, and it generally takes a writer with nerves of steel and driven to the bone to make the grade. (Having said this, it’s always made me wonder how TV writers manage to keep their cool. Wouldn’t I love to be one of the flies on the wall when they have one of their little parties, eh?) For them, life is a series of endless pressures. I can just see the committee room now. So many things tossed out on the table, so many things rejected. Very few things accepted. Once I heard a famous writer mention the following to me: for every 20 things I write, I must throw about 19 of them out, and one I keep. I was very heartened when I heard that.

How fun it could be to work with someone else’s material for once. Almost akin to what’s done these days at large companies -- being a part of something successful, inspired by a vision coming from a founder -- kind of like what it might be like to work at Amazon’s head office under Jeff Bezos.

What do you think?


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