crickey. THIS is why you should be watching Studio 60

studio60So I’m watching tonight’s episode of Studio 60 and may I say: fantastic. From every angle. Funny and moving, politically sharp, heart stopping romantic banter. Three of the primary characters in this promo shot: the producer Danny Trip (Bradley Whitford), the head writer Matt Albie (Matthew Perry), and Jordan McDeere, the newly appointed network president of the National Broadcast System, a maverick at heart, single, and pregnant (Amanda Peet).

Thus far Aaron Sorkin has been writing all the episodes (sometimes with a co-writer). Sorkin is the guy who wrote the best episodes of West Wing and Sports Night. Studio 60 makes it evident that he has not lost his touch. It probably also helps that Studio 60 is primarily about the writing and producing of a television program and one of the main characters is apparently based in part on himself.

Sorkin is the king of banter and he’s not too shabby at monologue, either. From tonight’s episode (he character Danny finally speaks his mind to Jordan):

I’ve been married twice before and I’m a recovering cocaine addict, and I know that’s no woman’s dream of a man or a father. Nonetheless I believe I’m falling in love with you. If you want to run I understand, but you better get a good head start. Because I’m coming for you, Jordan.

This is definitely a keeper of a television show. Let’s hope Sorkin sticks with it.

get out the vote: writers of fiction, unite!

Michael Stelzner’s weblog for writers is called Writing White Papers. I don’t stop by there very often because the focus is primarily (as you would guess) on white papers, defined as

A white paper is an authoritative report; a government report outlining policy; or a document for the purpose of educating industry customers or collecting leads for a company. White papers are used to help people make decisions. (Wikipedia)

I had a quick look at Michael’s blog this morning and I saw an interesting post. He’s asking his readers to nominate the top ten writing weblogs. There are a lot of nominations, but almost all of them have to do with websites that promote freelance writing, copy editing, and other kinds of non-fiction. Which struck me as a little one sided, so I nominated Paperback Writer as an excellent source of information and the occasional belly laugh, not to mention all the useful bits and pieces she gives away. I also commented on the fact that so many of the nominations pointed to Deborah Ng’s Freelance Writing Jobs. Which shouldn’t be a surprise if the target audience is primarily non-fiction writers, because that is an excellent resource. Long story short: I should have said that to start with. So now that I’ve taken my foot out of my mouth, my original concern still stands:

Why are the fiction writers not participating? Go on over there and vote for the website/oldweblog which is most helpful and/or interesting to you as a writer of stories. Here are some sites that I like:

Paperback Writer
Tess Gerritsen’s Blog
Smart Bitches Trashy Books
Alison Kent
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

You will note that I do not list this website. That’s because I would prefer you don’t nominate it, lest I end up again on the authors behaving badly list. Nominate some other weblog that focuses on providing support for writers of fiction. Go forth, and be counted.

a resource you have to be careful with

I really love the Overheard websites. People post things they’ve heard strangers say on the streets. It all started with Overheard in New York, but now there must be twenty or thirty such websites. Mostly Overheard in (insert city name, from Berkeley to Athens), but also Overheard at the Beach, Overheard at Law School, etc.

Here’s a lovely example from Overheard in New York:

Those who Bootleg History Are Doomed to Profit From It

20-something Chinese guy: You know what? Chinese people discovered America.

20-something Black guy: Bullshit.

20-something Chinese guy: It’s true! There’s an article on CNN showing we discovered America, there are maps. Chinese were here first before everyone else. Chinese people did everything before everyone else. White people take credit for everything, but now it’s coming out that Chinese made all of these discoveries first. Don’t you see a pattern? We’re the shit.

20-something Black guy: The only pattern I see is that you motherfuckers pirate and resell every DVD, and now you’re trying to bootleg history.

–Chinatown

Overheard by: Ricky

The danger for fiction writers is obvious if you spend any time reading Overheard. Such great dialog screams to be used in a fictional setting. Some of what you come across is so pitch perfect, it feels wasteful to just let it sit there with no purpose but to amuse the occasional passer-by.

In general, I feel comfortable using things I personally overhear in public to jump-start a scene or a story. I write things down and save them and once in a while those little bits of human interaction blossom into something bigger and more complex. But I’d be less comfortable adapting things somebody else has overheard and put up on a website. I’m not sure why, except it feels a little like cheating.

Any thoughts on this?