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What Makes a Good Character?

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Last night I broke out my pilot. It had been about six months since I looked at it and I had a few reactions I wasn’t expecting:

  1. The first two scenes are pretty funny
  2. The second half of act one needs more work than the tile of my 1950’s wackadoo kitchen
  3. Act two is about as together as Sonny and Cher after a few blissful years of marriage

I’ve done enough writing in my past to not worry about the current state of my pilot. I just needed to go back to my outline.

So I did.

The story wasn’t clear enough. And then it became even more clear that in order to have a solid story I need to know more about the characters.  Who are these people, why are they in my script, and what makes them tic?

The Transformation of This Blog

As many of you know, this blog started out as a journey for Tourette Syndrome. Who was my kid and what made him tic? What would his life story be? Would it be a comedy, a tragedy, a giant mystery full of gluten free bread and neurologists?

I started this blog when my son was 4. He’s now 14 and doing very well. (He starts high school next year! He’s six two! Eeeegaaads!)

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The truth is, like most good scripts, his story came out when I gave him time. I wanted a cheeky basketball player. He wanted to be a Vegan animal lover. I wanted a straight A student with a perfectly clean bedroom. He’s an A/B student with a room that looks like Gravity Falls and Harry Potter threw up in it. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.

When I didn’t force my kid to be anything other than who he was supposed to be, he was able to develop into the kid he’s supposed to be. He has limits and boundaries, but freedom to shine. I will extol that same grace to my pilot.

A Writing Schedule + Freedom = Great Characters (for me and my scripts)

With that in mind, I plan on giving myself some freedom over the summer to get off my crazy work train of a schedule and continue to write.

And read!

In addition to my morning spiritual books, I am toggling between:

one for the money

emotional intelligence

anne of green

What Do These Books Have in Common?

Amazing characters and insight. From a Jersey Girl bail bondsman, to an intelligent, fast talking orphan, to fascinating insight on the correlation between IQ and empathy, these books take me in. They make me laugh. And they make me think.

My Next Job Move

As I wonder about what next year holds for me at my current job, I can honestly say that whatever happens it will develop my character. Like the people in the books I am reading now, I will be forced to ask questions like:

  • Why am I making the choices I’m making?
  • What is my definition of success?
  • How can I be me while still contributing to a group? (My family/finances)
  • How can frustration be transcended into personal growth?

In the end, as I develop the character of Andrea, I will pour what I’ve learned into the characters of my pilot. And that, my friends, is really exciting! It’s my favorite kind of script – one where the lead character goes into the unknown with a bit of courage, sass and, hopefully, some humor.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Your Life.

Your Life Who?

Whoeever you want it to be. You got one shot. Make it worth it!

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Special Needs, Dropping Trou and TV Writing

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You may or may not know that I’m a special needs aide for a public middle school. I’m not sure what is further from my Hollywood writing days of yore – working at a middle school or working with kids like Midu, who only know 50 words of Hindi, no English and are more comfortable dropping trou in front of me than the time “Actor Who Won’t be Named” thought it was perfectly acceptable to unzip his pants while I was handing him pink rewrite pages.

Checking out the package (and not the one I was delivering) I almost said,”Not the pink I was expecting to see.” Instead I went with, “Craft service has mini hot dogs! See you on set!”

Back to Midu, who is just learning his ABC’s, I can’t help but think of my days on set. Similar to my days in the writers room, there’s a beautiful synergy that happens over the lunch tables. We laugh a lot. We tell stories. We trade food. “I’ll give you my apple slices for your tahini!” Granted, I can’t understand a word this kid is saying, but half of the director’s notes went over my head also.

The facts are, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing some hand movements, head nods and a good dose of humor can’t solve. At the end of the day, like with a brutal rewrite, as long as no one has wet themselves in the process and we’ve all had a good laugh, it’s a day well done.

As I dip my toe into the water of teaching higher level special ed next year, I’m excited about the possibilities of having even more impact with kids. Like my home for my own kids, the classroom will be a safe place for my school kids… a place to know that… for a few hours a day… they can take a break from whatever is going on in their own houses and rewrite their life script. Some kids I’ll reach, some kids I won’t. (One kid I work with uses all day to sleep. As long is it’s not someone I’m pitching a show to, I don’t take it personally.)

In the end, though…when thinking about teaching… there’s also this 47 year old kid who has a small fire inside her gut. It’s a desire that says, “While you’re helping your kids achieve their dreams, don’t forget yours.”

What’s mine? I want to get into TV again. It’ll take time. I will need to use summers to write my scripts and school nights to network here and there. But I’m ready. I’m setting a goal to apply for a Warner Bros. Writing program 2018 – 2019. I’ll need two spec scripts. Grace and Frankie, here I come! (I’ll get Grace into rehab even if it’s only on paper!)Wish me luck!

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And after dealing with the Midus of the world, I will have stories.

Until next time, tell me about you. What is your dream?

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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