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Here's my New Year's gift to you. It's a term I have been using for years, and it always impresses the hell out of people for some reason. I even know execs who have stolen the term from me, and use it now. Who cares! The best thing about it all? It's not complete crap. It's absolutely true, and is how I approach writing and character for film and television, fundamentally. If you want to impress execs, producers, etc., just say this.
"I'm really into the forensics of writing."
Booyah. All of a sudden you're a technician, putting your words to serious scrutiny. It works even better if you're pitching to win a job rewriting something. You're treating this existing script (and every script--particularly when you're rewriting yourself) like a crime scene. What the hell went wrong here, and how do we bring these errors, lame dialogue, and execution problems to justice?
To me, the forensics of writing represents the ultimate challenge. Every script, every story is forcing me digging deeper, trying to solve a case. I assume what I have written or the idea I have come up with is bad. I collect evidence, put together the pieces, and determine how these people ended up here, and why? Or, how did this end up not being good enough? How can I make it better? Sure, you're investigating people and things who don't exist. And, that sounds weird. But, you have to know what makes them tick. What led them here? And, sometimes investigation uncovers things you never would have considered.
Hopefully this makes sense.
Think about that term, forensics, and what it means. Think about CSI, and what they do. Treat your script (or any script) like a crime scene of bad writing. What went wrong, and how do we eliminate the problems?
Most writers don't know when something is bad, or too easy. That's why CSI investigators work in teams. They're less likely to miss something, and they often do different things. Find a writer friend who's great with character. Have him or her put your script under the black light. Find someone who's great with story. Ultimately, you're the lead investigator, but you can't do it alone. You need help. And, you need to trust and rely on the team you've assembled to make your script better.
The forensics of writing. The new term for 2010.
Pass it on.
Send questions or comments for Todd Carr to firstname.lastname@example.org