SHELLEY ERIKSEN, PART FOURComplications Ensue
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Here's the fourth part of my interview with Shelley Eriksen:

AE: How do you know when your draft is ready to turn in to network?

SE: When my deadline is past. Whenever I'm happy enough with it. Go with your gut. Know your network.

AE: Chris Abbott says you have to get the showrunner's voice, the voice of the show, right.

SE: There is room for different voices on a show ... Obviously the characters have to sound lke themselves. New characters are where an outside writer gets to shine. But speaking out of my experience as someone who's been writing to the showruner's vocie and now is the showrunner ... I worked for one guy for six years. I could read him and do him. Didn't mean that I was any less original, I got, I heard the voice of the show and that's my job ... make my stuff sound like that show. He said to me once, he was pointing at a script, at the writer's name, and he said, that guy didn't write this episode... The show wrote the episode.... if all pistons are firing, Cold Squad is writing Cold Squad. I find that for me it's .... mouth feel. When they talk about food, how it feels on the tongue ... I have the same feeling about script writing. Does it feel right on the tongue? Would my lead ever say that? Something as simple as whether or not he uses contracts to what kind of metaphors would he use, or not.

Even as a showrunner, you can't say what a character would say in any situation, but you know if it's right or it's wrong.

A writer who works for a show ... I have a friend who wrote one or two Deadwoods. He's embarrasssed to have his names on those scripts. But Milch wanted him.

AE: Why? It's going to come out Milch in the end.

SE: He gets ideas. When you read your own script, you always say, oh god it's the work of genius. You read someone else, and it's so easy to see what isn't working. That's what the outside writer does for you. You have more to bring when you see somethng you haven't come up with yourself. That's how MOW's work up here. The first writer is creating out of a blank plot. And the producers are always saying, okay, now that I've seen your script, I know what this movie isn't. You're refining your vision by having something to react against. Milch saw the way that the writer didn't quite get it ... isn't that a key component of creativity? Thesis, antithesis, synthesis? You have to read somebody else's stuff and then you can go, Well, I would have done it like this.

In conflict lies genius.

AE: Sometimes it's more fun to rewrite a script than to write it in the first place, because it's less angsty.

SE: Yeah.

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