Saturday, June 9, 2012

Latinos need to write for television, part II

Odilia Rivera-Santos

The process of getting any project done requires excellent interpersonal skills, emotional detachment, lots of intelligent -- not frivolous -- communication and a touch of frivolity. Today, I realized getting a project from seed to fruition is akin to using Twitter: to engage followers/participants/co-conspirators, you have to pay attention and fine-tune your interests and capabilities, and your input must be significant and of value to others in order to maintain interest. Being a true leader requires a small strong ego because, sometimes, you must share leadership duties and promote others to a position you may have desired but know is not the right fit.

Why would I encourage a writer to write for television and why do I want to write for television?

Writing for television is important because it is the 'art form' that garners the most attention internationally and establishes perceptions on issues, ethnic groups and plays a pivotal role in whether cultures are valued or not.
For me, maintaining some blogs is a small commitment, which is actually a good precursor to writing a weekly show. The tenor and quality of writing has to be consistent and audience engagement requires one to be productive. All the bloggers I know have at least one day job and life is a hustle from one thought process to another and from one gig to the next.

Writing for a TV show is great training just as acting in a soap opera is great training; having complete control of content may not be possible, but having some input is enough to merit spending time chipping away at this. ... the existential 'this' of writing Erkel's next lines.

What makes a person Latino? Is there such a thing as a Latino perspective?
A couple of people have told me they don't think of me as Latina.
One person said "You're so smart and articulate and you express yourself so well. I think of you as American."
One person said 'You're a great writer. .. you don't need to categorize yourself or limit yourself in any way."

Is there a limiting aspect to listing adjectives before the 'writer' term?
I don't know, but the truth is I am an AfroPuerto Rican writer born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico who migrated at six to the South Bronx and whose work has elements of many experiences.

Can we Latinos accept ourselves as intellectuals, bohemians, or artists?
It is 2012, not 1812, which makes one think it's okay for people to write for and about their own tribes.
Although I am an AfroPuerto Rican writer, my interests are varied and not limited to ideas generated by those of my country of origin or ideas I've developed by sitting around thinking about Puerto Rican identity. My world allows for ideas from non-Spanish-speaking people and countries. Every nationality has its say.
Great writing keeps you reading or listening and can guide you to a conclusion heretofore never imagined. After the first post on how Latinos should write for television, I received a lot of emails with questions regarding how to 'break in' to writing for TV.
Considering the negative stereotypes of Latinos, we may want to use another colloquialism.

The real question is
How do I prepare myself to write for television?

1. Learn how to write characters.
BODY: Creating an entire person from nothing can be a complex exercise.
The way we perceive or guard ourselves in the world is often related to the way others see us.
It might be a good idea to begin with a physical description devoid of meaningless words such as ugly or beautiful. Describe each detail of the character's physical appearance as if talking to a cop for a police sketch.
MIND: Create the backstory for your character because this will serve as a guideline for his/her actions -- a childhood along with relationships for this character -- parenting, siblings, neighborhood.
2. Learn how to write dialogue. Listen to people at work, on the train, at coffee shops. People interrupt each other, speak clumsily at times, have difficulty articulating their thoughts. Dialogue can be very refined and elegant or brusque. Communication is a multisensory experience.
3. Learn the difference between a story that must be told with a visual component and one meant to be read.
4. Find talented people who are devoted to the work of creating art and see if you can work through each others' personality quirks to focus on the product.
5. Promote your talent, promote your work and stay true to your goal as you continue to fine-tune them.
6. Present your work in public in front of an audience because the feedback is an excellent editing tool.

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