Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lessons Learned in Television Production, Characters, and Comfort Zones

P.P.P.S. Happy 2011! It's gonna be a great year.
by t. lynn ocean
I work as a TV producer with the bulk of what I create being paid advertising segments. Many lessons learned from the television business are fantastic for writers. Eliminating clutter, for example. When you're trying to cram a message into thirty seconds, you must choose your words carefully. And, while things are rapidly changing (clients love their new On Demand and hi-def advertising options), the golden rule for producing an effective ad hasn't. Get the viewer's ATTENTION, keep their INTEREST, create a DESIRE, and instigate a call to ACTION. Kind of like what a novelist hopes to accomplish, with the call to action being: tell all your friends what a fantastic read my book was so that they'll run out and buy it!

Last week, another good lesson occurred to me. We were doing a video shoot for a medical practice. The doctor had to speak on camera for 12 seconds. No teleprompter, but still, it was three short sentences. Simple, right?

We're talking a handsome, wildly successful man who cuts on people for a living. Good hands, nerves of steel kind of guy. But the instant the camera went on, he visually crumbled. Messed up his lines. Looked fidgety and nervous. Not the type of dude I'd want operating on me, if I didn't know better. The bottom line is that he was suddenly the focus of attention with the lights and camera and several pairs of eyes watching. He was completely out of his comfort zone and downright squirmy.

Pulling anyone—fictional characters included—out of their comfort zone can make for great comedy or drama. The hardcore fighter who is suddenly a single dad. The janitor who wins the lottery. The soccer mom who must land a plane or die. You get the idea. For the writers out there, comfort zones are certainly something to think about when developing a plot. And for those of you who aren't crazy about pounding out words for hours at a time, comfort zones are still something to think about.  Step out of yours on occassion and see what happens! 

Happy Reading, Writing, & Blogging to All,

P.S. The doctor did eventually relax and all was well, but I sure did get some great blooper footage.
P.P.S. I really do have a new book coming out soon – promise!


Peggy Webb said...

Your astute observation about the parallels between writing and producing great ads was right on target. And I loved your advice about leaving the comfort zone. When I edit my writing, often I'm deleting the mundane and moving a character out of her comfort zone. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lynn, I loved this blog and you are so right about taking our characters out of their comfort zones. Works every time.

Jackie Lee Miles,
author of ALL THAT'S TRUE

tracy said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. Tracy

JLC said...

The best encapsulated "how-to" lecture I've seen. Thank you for posting it!