Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When writers read your site and might be influenced by you.

One of the best things about writing a blog is that at least in theory everyone has the chance to read what I'm writing here. Everyone who is interested in knowing what I've been doing lately (nothing) or what my thoughts about certain things are is welcome to read this blog.

Even though I primarily write this blog for myself - as a form of therapy - I'm also writing because I want to reach out to people. There aren't really that many active sites online about television writing, so perhaps this blog might serve a purpose.

Nevertheless, even though the purpose of this blog is not to go for maximum ratings, I've been lately thinking and wondering who are the people that are reading this site. Apparently some relatively influential folks have been visiting here pretty frequently.

One of the reasons I've been thinking this is because of what has happened on Modern Family over the last year. I think there's a decent chance - at least an outside chance - that one of the changes on the show perhaps happened at least partly because of me.

As you might know, I have tried to teach you here about writing - how to think about it and how to approach the writing process. I try to show how I do it myself: I post my story ideas, thoughts behind them and I post those scripts for you to read too.

The way I possibly influenced Modern Family is through something that happened to one of its characters. In this case we're talking about Mitchell Pritchett who became a courtroom lawyer rather soon after I wrote a spec about it - which is a rather peculiar coincidence.

At first I didn't really think about it that much, but the more I have thought about it, I guess the higher the chances have become that I might have influenced this curious change in Mitchell's career path. This whole thing kinda bothers me, if I'm being honest.

In any case, the reason I decided to do something different with him - unlike the writers of the show - is because Mitchell had always been strictly a desk job lawyer. So I thought what if the audience could see him doing some actual "lawyering" in court? To me it seemed obvious.

I also thought about this because I'm admittedly a massive fan of David E. Kelley. I had written Boston Legal already, so I knew I could make law - that is super boring in real life - seem interesting on a show like Modern Family too.

This wasn't that 'easy' and simple to implement though. Since there are so many storylines on each Modern Family episode, I had to adjust. No storyline could be about the actual facts or about the case, because there wasn't enough time for that. I had to make it about emotions.

So what I was thinking was; what if Mitchell had a storyline in which he had to give a closing argument in a big case? What if he was a nervous wreck. What if nothing seemed to go his way? How could he conquer his fears and save the day? That's what I came up with.

I think this storyline in my opinion was really well executed. If Steve Levitan - or any other person from the writing staff - read it, it must have given them the confidence to go and try this angle on the show too. (see the 4th season finale of the show "Goodnight, Gracie")

Sure, I can't be sure that I made them do the change, but the writers of the show know this blog - and at the very least I did it before they did. I showed that it can be done, even though subsequently those "Mitchell in court" storylines have mostly been pretty bad.

It might not be my best spec script, but now that I read it again after fixing it, I think I can be pretty proud of myself.  At least in my opinion I have the ability to read these characters really well and I think I have the ability to make them as real as possible.

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