Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with TV writer Liz Tigelaar, creator of "Life Unexpected" - Part 5: Personal Themes in Writing

Part 1 - Breaking in as an assistant
Part 2 - First Staff Writer Job on "American Dreams"
Part 3 - How Do I Get an Agent?
Part 4 - Selling a Pilot

One recurring theme in Liz Tigelaar's work is that of identity.  In this latest segment of my interview with Liz, we discuss the origins of her pilot Split Decision and how exploring that theme led Liz to develop a show that would have followed two different versions of it's lead character's life, with different choices in each reality leading to different outcomes and consequences.  In doing so, it would have explored how the choices we make shape who we are.

This is something important for young writers to remember.  A show has to be about something.  It's best to develop themes that can live below the surface.  A superficial exploration of this idea might have just dealt with the gimmick of alternate versions of the same people.  It sounds like Liz's intent was to go beyond that and use those realities to explore the characters and what it can really mean to be defined by your actions and your history.  There are elements here that resonate with an audience on a personal level.  Who among us hasn't wondered how different we'd be had we had or not had a particular experience?

Identity is a theme I deal with in my writing a lot too, and I think I would have liked Liz's take on it because she wouldn't have gone the route of saying "No matter what, this person was always fated to end up this way."

What sort of ideas do you use your writing to explore?

Part 6 - Genesis of "Life Unexpected"
Part 7 - First-Time Showrunner
Part 8 - Developing the second year of LUX
Part 9 - Dealing with network notes
Part 10 - Controversial LUX storylines
Part 11 - LUX lives on
Part 12 - Network overall deal, working on Once Upon a Time and Revenge
Part 13 - The Bitter Questions