Host: What’s like mistakes that you see in young writer scripts that are like most common? Like just an aspect of writing that a lot of young writers don’t get or have trouble with at first?
Rosanne: There’s probably a couple of things. I see, sometimes, that people don’t take the time to do the research they need into the world they want to write about. It’s really not good to come into class with a first act, let’s say, or an outline and if I want to ask you a question about how doctors would really do that and you say I haven’t looked into it yet. Don’t write it until you’ve looked into it. I’ve had people write cop shows where cops do things they don’t – you can’t do. It doesn’t work that way, right? Oh well, I didn’t know that. Well, you’re writing a cop show. Go figure out what happens the day after they shoot somebody. They don’t just go back to their desk. There are all kinds of stuff that happens or actually, you’re trying to think. I’ve always had examples of that or people who do different things or they have doctors do different things like that’s not how a doctor – that’s not how a hospital works. Didn’t you pay attention to that? Have you ever been to a hospital, you know, you can’t do that. You must know – you must be the expert in the room when you have brought in a story about a certain time or place. I laughed because I had someone once who was writing a piece that took place in the 70s and she had the parents strap their child into the car seat before putting them in the car and I stopped and I said did you research the history of car seats? Do you know that they didn’t start until the mid-80s? In the 70s you strapped your kid into a seat belt – if you bothered with that at all – because not all cars had seat belts. She had no idea. She thought since there had been car seats since her childhood they had always existed and I was like I now know that you didn’t do your homework. I’m not going to hire a writer onto my show who didn’t take the time to look into the period they were writing about. So you got to do your research. I think that’s probably the biggest mistake I see.
It’s always fun to sit down with students and share stories about entering the television industry and how things work at all stages and I had that opportunity the other day.
Daniela Torres, a just-graduated (Congratulations!) student of the Columbia College Semester in LA program asked me to guest on a podcast she had recently begun hosting with another college student she met during her internship (good example of networking in action!).
We could have talked all morning (the benefit of a 3 hour class session) but we held it to about an hour and fifteen minutes or so. Hopefully, along the way I answered some questions you might have about how the business works. So often it amounts to working hard at being a better writer and gathering a group of other talented, hard-working people around you so you can all rise together.
Dr. Rosanne Welch is a television writer with credits that include Beverly Hills 90210, Picket Fences, ABCNEWS: Nightline and Touched by an Angel. She also teaches Television Writing and the Art of Film at San Jose State University.
Rosanne discusses what made shows like Beverly Hills 90210 compelling, what to do and not to do when attempting to pitch a show to broadcast or streaming, what most young writers neglect in their writing process, and much more!
The Courier Thirteen Podcast is available on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Audible.