Let’s close out July with some Friday Questions, shall we?
GS in SF starts with a question on the spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW I recently wrote and posted.
How different do you think the process would have been had you worked with your writing partner instead of handling the task solo? Would he have offered similar comments? Or, does having a partner give you more "distance" that maybe you would have come to some of these helpful insights on your own? This may offer an excellent opportunity to dissect the pros (and cons?) of writing with a partner??
First of all, it would be better with better jokes. David Isaacs and I always write together (i.e. in the same room) so every moment and line is talked out. I don’t know specifically what his comments would have been, but we put nothing on paper unless there's a consensus.
In breaking the story, he would have had his own ideas and for all I know, they would have been the same as Bill Persky’s. And like I always say, “the best idea wins.”
Michael has another DVD Show question.
There was contention here and there in the comments sections about out of character behavior. Rob saying something someone thought Rob would never say or Alan doing something someone thought Alan would never do. Do these types of disagreements ever come up in the writers' room and, if so, how do you resolve them?
These questions come up ALL the time. At some point though, whoever is running the room – generally the showrunner – has to make the final call.
The best shows are the ones where there is a clear vision by the person in charge. Problems arise when characters are so undefined no one really knows how they’ll react in a given situation. Or everyone on the writing staff has a slightly different take on the character. You need everybody to be on the same page and that starts with the showrunner.
Where it gets sticky is when the actor says his character wouldn’t say that. Generally, I find that when that happens the actor is right. They begin to really internalize their characters and the good ones have a great barometer as to what their characters would or wouldn’t do. We writers find that annoying but it’s true.
And still another -- this one from Matthew Kugler:
Since you weren't under a deadline for this script and it was greatly for pleasure, at what point did you feel you had done your best attempt? How many drafts/revisions did you go through? And did you still feel pressure or nervousness knowing that you'd be submitting it to Mr. Persky and Mr. Reiner?
Since I knew it would never be produced I didn't kill myself. Most of my time spent was on breaking the story. I wrote the script rather quickly, but it helped that I so knew the characters. As always, once I have a draft I go through and polish. Then, just before it's done, I go back and put in five more good jokes and thin out any big speech.
And to answer your second question, sure I felt a little pressure. After all, THE writers of the DVD Show were going to read it -- the icons I have always looked up to. I'll be very honest, I was very relieved that Bill Persky liked it.
Ken, you recently wrote a stage play, you just completed the Dick Van Dyke spec, you mentioned another comedy you and David created and pitched, and you keep up a fairly detailed and time-consuming daily blog. My question: Where do you find the time? I'm amazed at your output. Don't you sleep? (Okay, that's a second question. You can answer either or both.) Thanks.
Writing is fun now because I can work on projects I enjoy. Like this blog.
Mark Raymond asks:
There always seems to be a few comments that "have been removed by the author." I'm not asking what they said, since I understand if you wanted us to see them you would have left them stay as a comment. I guess I'm just wondering what the tone or tenor of these comments are that gets them removed?
I actually remove very few comments. But if the comment is particularly hateful, offensive, or attacks one of the other commenters I will remove it. And I’m way more apt to do that if the person hides behind anonymity.
Feel free to disagree with me. Just do it in a civil manner. I’ve even been known to change my mind or apologize for things I’ve posted. (But that’s rare since I’m right so much of the time.)
I greatly appreciate all of your comments.
And Friday Questions. What’s yours?