My work is to develop stories for screenplays, novels and TV shows. I’ve been thinking about new ways to develop a memorable, original TV series.
I was very sad to hear of the passing of Stephen Hawking. He was a free thinker and gave us a new vision of the world. I love this interview he did with John Oliver in which he predicts among other things the likelihood of John getting a date with Charlize Theron.
Hawking’s observations on the nature of time are important to us writers because when creating stories we make assumptions about the world which can make our stories predictable and boring. We assume for example, that the “Big Bang” theory of the universe is true. In writer’s terms, we assume that something happened and because of that event, the world was created. Hawking posited that perhaps there was no event. So what if there was no “inciting event,” that nothing happens, and we begin our next story with our main character already on the journey? It’s fun to work on a story that does not make the ordinary assumptions based on cause and effect.
I’ve found it effective when working towards commercial originality to allow the nature of the main character to determine what happens in the story based on what he or she needs to learn in order to become the hero or heroine of their own lives instead of a specific event. For example, I’ve been working with a writer to develop a new TV series starring an unusual and eccentric detective. Rather than working from a situation such as a murder committed to launch the pilot, it’s been rewarding to reverse the project and develop the plot based on what the detective needs to fulfill his destiny. This allows us to design a shape of the story and allow the details to fill in rather than forcing the story to fit the details.
As a result, the pilot has become much more interesting and the detective memorable.
The take away here is to become aware of our assumptions about creating a story and to invite originality by focusing on the world of our main characters.
Here’s to your successful writing!
Professor Marilyn Horowitz