Arts & Culture

My life as a TV Series?

I’m currently exploring several exciting film opportunities for my second memoir Moose, opportunities that extend beyond my book trailer (which I’ll admit, was fun to make. And woo hoo to over 200,000 views on YouTube).  See the video below this … Read More

By / January 9, 2009

I’m currently exploring several exciting film opportunities for my second memoir Moose, opportunities that extend beyond my book trailer (which I’ll admit, was fun to make. And woo hoo to over 200,000 views on YouTube).  See the video below this post.

The trick with a coming-of-age book like Moose is finding a balance between a screenplay aimed at child actors and bringing in a "name" to play the adult version of a character. While I figure out what my exact vision is for the book, I’ve been working with ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners (Formerly Brillstein-Grey), writing the pilot for a half-hour comedy series based off my first memoir Straight Up And Dirty, and I’m not going to lie to you: blog writing isn’t book writing, which isn’t TV writing.

At first I thought the only real difference came down to dialogue.  Hey, I’m awesome at dialogue, this’ll be cake. Yeah, burnt, eneven cake where you keep taking bites to figure out which ingredient you forgot. I know from writing books that there needs to be a clear structure: a beginning, middle, and end, an arc toward self-discovery and realizations. Great, so I’ll start with what I want the main character to realize in the end and simply work backwards. Sounds like a plan. Only now, let me break it all apart into a four-act structure, and learn to live without a plan.

Despite the fact that my blog, my two memoirs, and now a TV series based off my life are all about me, the actual writing and process of writing for each medium is different. Very different.

Book writing can be a whole lot of internal conflicts. Take for example, just a quick summary from my first memoir Straight Up And Dirty: My life’s forecast never included becoming a woman with a wasband.  I expected some schooling, a career, and a family, not divorce, especially not before I hit 30.  Before I “settled down,” I played it up, dating with a vengeance.  I was a single woman in a sensational city. And, I didn’t do Cosmos; I liked mine dirty.  Until, I found a clean, genteel, mensch-next-door whose idea of keeping house was sweeping… me off my feet.  Then, suddenly, it all looked different; “single” became tired.  How many cleavage-baring black tops, “How could you think I’d be interested in him?” blind dates, and kisses with frogs can a girl tolerate before she’s ready for a prince?  Marriage fit me like a glove and my husband like a noose.  Mrs. Robinson didn’t just rob the cradle; she stole away with my rattle, bouncer seat, and designer diaper bag.  And, just like that: divorced while you’re firm, fashionable, and, let’s face it, fetching. 

Nothing above is actually salvagable when it comes to script writing. It’s all exposition. TV Writing is all about showing external conflicts, seeing scenes, putting characters in situations that force their internal conflicts up and out of them. The key is giving your characters immediate wants other than internal hopes and struggles, more than deciding between right and wrong. Deciding whether or not to go to wedding with a date, hating her job, not being over an ex, not knowing what to do for a living, not knowing whether or not to change her name, figuring out how to love herself–all internal struggles that might make for an interesting character, but they don’t help when you need to create a story for TV.  Instead, it’s all about creating external conflict. It’s plot based, and it’s an entirely different skill. One I’m learning as I go. And just like anything written well, you can snatch up a stack of pilot scripts and think, well, who can’t do that? That’s so easy. Of course it is, and it isn’t. It just depends on the day.

Stephanie Klein, author of Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp, spent the past week guest blogging on Jewcy. This is her parting post. Want more? Buy the book!

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