Twofish's Blog

December 8, 2006

Notes on sitcom pilot and privacy issues

Filed under: academia, Career, new york city, personal — twofish @ 12:38 am

Feeling much better today.  There are things going on that I can’t talk about now, but I’ll be able to talk about in a week or two (not for emotional reasons but for business non-disclosure reasons).  Things should start becoming stable at that time, at which time I can talk about what has been bothering me.

(This is going to sound like figuring out the sources of the books of the Bible.)

I’ve found that talking about Professor L (my sitcom character) actually is quite helpful.  Professor L is a composite of several people.  The fairy princess (FP) is a major component of Professor L, but she also contains equal components of another woman I’ll call S, and some tiny bits of various people J and C, and no doubt a lot of other people that I’ve incorporated unconsciously.  I’ve also included one major change in the timeline.  Professor L did something that FP didn’t do, and I think would be incapable of doing, and Professor L is just different from FP because of that one decision and the consequences that flow from that decision.

Her husband Professor W, is based on me to start off with, but assumes about three things in my life changed (and it also assumes that the academic system isn’t as messed up as it is as far as hired).  I’ve also included bits and pieces of some other people I know.  P for one, and C for another.  So Professor W is similarly to me in a lot of ways, but very, very different in others.  Just to name one, he has no commercial programming experience.  I do.  He is a member of the East Coast liberal establishment.  I’m not.

Having someone similar to you, but not the same as you in a short story, prevents what science fiction writers call the “Mary Sue” character.

One final thing.  The thing that most terrifies me is that someone who I do not trust will figure out who these people are, and I will bring them unwanted notarity.  This worries me in particular, because the thing that triggered all of this was an news magazine article about the fairy princess, in what will be most certainty the first of many more articles (just as in the fictional world, Professor L has a bright career in front of her.  Professor W is going to do OK, but he just doesn’t have the drive that Professor L has).

Since the article that triggered this was public I was worried that people could make the link

Professor L -> news magazine -> fairy princess

What I did in order to prevent this, is that to writing my sitcom pilot, I found another profile in the same series of articles about high achievers.  So it still would be relatively easy to go

Professor L -> news magazine profile

But that would be a red herring because the news magazine profile would be to someone similar to, but not the same as the fairy princess.  Choosing which profile to use as a red herring took some time.  I needed someone very, very close to the fairy princess so that the “dramatic truth” would be the same (for example, it is sort of important that the red herring, FP, and Professor L all went to English universities), but someone for which I could invent details.  Say fairy princess grew up in Maine.  I find out that the red herring grew up in California.  This would affect the little details in the story.

I’m rather curious if there is or enough confusion to go from Professor L to the “red herring.”  If anyone *thinks* that they know who the stories are about or who I’m talking to, please drop me a private e-mail, and I’ll figure out what to do.

Also, some of the people I have based my sitcom characters on are people who I haven’t talked to for years.  Some of these people I do want to talk to.  Some of these people I don’t want to talk to.  But part of writing this in public is so that I can communicate to people in my past even if I’m not on speaking terms with them.  I do have some perspectives and insights on some past events, and personality that I’d like to share with people, even if I can’t and don’t want to talk to them, and they can’t or don’t want to talk to me.

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