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Thursday, July 13, 2006

As a medical mystery show, House gets into some pretty arcane medical knowledge.
a) From what I've heard, shows like House have medical consultants to help them get things right. On a procedural like House, where the details of the medical mystery are a key part of the show, the medical consultants must be right in the writing room, or the writers must have an awful lot of medical knowledge. How is this dealt with? How much do they just write "medical medical medical" and let the consultants fill in? When a freelancer is hired, does the showrunner provide them with all the medical info they need to write the story?
b) How do you deal with this when you're writing a spec? I'm quite certain I can't just write "Insert snarkily delivered medical jargon here." I'm assuming this means that I have to go out and do enough medical research to write something that would convince the average reader (i.e., not a medical professional). Yes? Which brings me to my last question:
c) I have a friend in med school who has offered to come up with fun medical stuff for my writing, as long as she gets credit. I have explained that since this is just an exercise for me, very few people are likely to read this script, but of course she can have credit. If I do, however, end up (after much revision) using this as an actual spec, how do I credit her input? Put a note at the end saying, "Medical Consultant: Jane Doe"?
Sounds like you're on top of all of this. Yes, on a show, there's a medical consultant (or several) on staff, who can provide details. Look at Jane Espenson's blog or better, Doris Egan's LiveJournal. (See the left sidebar for URL's.) Doris actually writes on House.

The more important thing to know is that your spec will live or die on the characters and what the medical stuff means to them. Why is House driven to make this particular diagnosis? What kind of trouble does it get him in? It's important to get the medical stuff right, which means more research than you'd have to do if you worked on the show. But if you're not telling a human story, your spec will not impress.

I'd put the credit on the title page ("With thanks to Dr. Jane Doe" or "Medical consultant: Dr. Jane Doe"). It shouldn't bother people much there, and they might even appreciate that you found a doctor to talk to.



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