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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Lisa and I started to watch SID AND NANCY, which we both saw when it came out. After about fifteen minutes of heroin-infused self-destructive craziness (and, yes, electric performances by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb), we just didn't feel like watching it any more. So we watched VEEP instead.

Many people claim that there's discrimination against older writers. And I suppose to some extent, some younger producers and execs would rather work with even younger writers whom they feel comfortable bossing around. But I think most of it is coming from the older writers themselves. Partly it relates to the process. Older writers are less willing to work for free. They are less willing to work late and on weekends. They have families and lives.

But part of it is creative. Some of drama is about people clashing about principles, but most of it is people doing unwise things. No one makes movies about rock musicians who have it all together and balance their professional and personal lives. I couldn't write an interesting movie about my relationship with Lisa. And, as you get older, you tend to accumulate wisdom, at least to the extent of seeing the train coming and deciding that, on the whole, it might be a good idea to step off the tracks.

So then, when you're writing characters in conflict, it becomes more of an effort to make them do damnfool things. You can do it, and you can even do it better. But it requires more of a mental effort.

Of course, people doing dumb things is not a plot hole. People doing things out of character is a plot hole. But people do dumb things all the time. The secret to filling plotholes is to show why your character is being such a jerk. What character flaw propels him into the open manhole? Pride, lust, anger, gluttony, sloth, envy or greed, or some combination? I'd want to get into why Sid was such a bag of pain -- not by means of a character aria, I try to avoid those, but by revelatory character moments scattered here and there that allow us to imagine our way into him.

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