Monday, March 18, 2013

Writing about personal stuff.

I can't really give myself credit for coming up with this topic. I got it from Sheldon Bull's blog where he wrote about 'personal stories' a week or two ago.

So, the question is, should you write about stuff that's happened to you? Are these things, events, problems or whatever they might be, worth telling?

Sheldon on his blog pointed out that he used to write scripts about his personal issues and that those scripts never really went anywhere. Pretty quickly he though understood that there are other ways to make it so he decided to try sitcoms instead - which turned out to be a good decision.

When it comes to me, I can't really say that I'm a fan of writing about myself. I don't see much entertainment in things that have happened to me or in things that have been done to me. I don't see how my personal problems would be important enough so that I would have to write about those.

In many ways I think personal issues in the script are usually the weakest part of it. This is because you're too attached to your feelings and you're not able to see the forest for the trees. That is that you're not able to distance you from yourself.

For example on Girls, by far the least interesting stuff is about Lena Dunham's obsessive compulsive disorder. Every time you see her ocd on screen, it just doesn't fit in at all. It's not well written, the exposition is bad and there's way too much emphasis on it.

Another good example comes from the same show, from Judd Apatow that is. I don't know where he got the idea to write about his Hollywood problems in 'this is 40'. It was simply stupid and boring. Just like with Funny People, he was probably the only guy on the planet who thought the movie was worth making.

Or how about Leonard's awkward mother monologues on the Big Bang Theory. Man, does the showrunner have issues or what. It's just embarrassing to see these out of nowhere moments every now and then. It's too obviously personal stuff - and not interesting.

There are exceptions of course - and not surprisingly David Kelley is probably the best example with Ally Mcbeal. She was clearly his alter ego and yet for some reason he managed to pull it off. The personal stuff was entertaining and relatable at the same time.

I guess that's at least partly because he made the character a woman instead of making her a man. This had to help. Another thing was of course that he had something real to say, which is rather rare in today's world.

But in any case, when it comes to writing, I don't think scripts should be that much about you or yourself. In the end what matters more is that it's about us all.

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